– Mr. Shamir, let us discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: what’s going on there, why is the relative peace broken once again?
– What is urgent there, is not the preservation of peace, but solving the problem. For Palestinians the situation in Gaza became a nightmare ages ago, being especially horrible in recent years. It would be erroneous to presume all was smooth there before the last exacerbation. It was OK for Israel, yes, but that situation was absolutely unsuitable for Palestinians in Gaza. It should be always remembered! For years they try to reverse Palestinians into medieval state. Palestinians live in the blockade for seven years now, they cannot leave the Gaza area, they cannot conduct any foreign trade activity. Last year Mahmud Abbas, the interim Palestinian President, made active attempts to harmonize relationship with Israel through the mediation of John Kerry, the U. S. Secretary of State. They held dozens of meetings trying to reach some peaceful solution, but with no result.
– Because everything is convenient as it is for Israeli government, particularly for the PM Benjamin Netanyahu. His participation in talks with Palestine is just an attempt to somehow disguise the fact that a whole people is devoid of his rights and kept in bondages. Previously Netanyahu took advantage from the strong discrepances between Mahmud Abbas and Hamas, the ruling party in Gaza. Nonetheless, they have found their consensus, and afterwards Israel could not play on the contradictions of Palestinian internal policy. Hence a decision has been taken to break the established balance, suppress Hamas and provoke another conflict. When suddenly three young Israeli settlers mysteriously vanished, it become obvious that a suitable occasion is given. Why have they vanished and how has it happened, is still unknown.
The official version affirms that quite before the death those settlers allegedly informed the police on their kidnapping. Many believe that to have been a deliberate provocation approved by Netanyahu himself or his nearest surrounding, for it is not the settlers’ habit to ever move by a car with Palestinian numbers, all the more to take a car if the driver speaks with Palestinian accent. Netanyahu immediately sent his army to the Western bank, allegedly for the purpose of search for those persons, while from the very beginning they accused Hamas for that crime. It is only him who knows the base for the accusations. Israel tries to assure they have evidences, but those so confidential that they can not be revealed to anyone. Naturally, Gaza responded the aggression with opening fire. And right at that moment the Boeing jet crashed in Ukraine, so the world community switched its attention from the Gaza conflict to this enigmatic tragedy. Meanwhile, Israel deployed its troops in Gaza and inflicted a massacre. Outcomes: thousand killed, half a million refugees, great devastations. Now the Israeli authorities say they agree to withdraw troops for the sake of peace settlment! But Palestinians do not belong to the kind of people who would just simply forgive the assassination of their citizens. They will go on with resistance, claiming lifting of the blockade.
– But why does Israel need all this?
– For several reasons. First, nine months long talks with Kerry failed. Secondly, Palestinians gathered their common government and started the process of internationalization of the conflict by addressing to the UN and other international bodies. The Israeli government feared that Palestinians would appeal to the ICC, the International Criminal Court, which would react and take measures. That’s why they decided to further the conflict.
It should be noted that the Gaza government has found itself in a very hard foreign policy situation. That was connected with the ‘Arab Spring’. They had contacts with former legal government of Egypt leaded by the President Mursi. Since he was ousted by the Field Marshal Sisi, they lost their friends in Egypt. They also can’t find those in Lebanon and in Syria due to the fact that they opposed to Bashar Assad and to the Hezbollah. Such missteps have deepened the international isolation of Gaza. Thus, from the Israeli viewpoint, it was the proper moment to strike on them at minimum risk and costs, owing to the lack of support for them.
– The confrontation line goes not only on the supreme level but also between ordinary citizens, doesn’t it?
– Largely it’s so. In the times of my youth the relationship between Jews and Palestinians weren’t so poor. There was no great love, but some mutual interest took place. But a lot of foul events happened in the past twenty years so that now the relations really worsened. Besides, a powerful propaganda machine does its work perfectly, permanently demonizing Palestinians.
– What is the role of the U. S. in this standoff?
– As we see, the U. S. always stand close to Israeli position. Sometimes American administration expresses disapproval, but in the long run they always appear consent, like during the last conflict, when condemnation sounded for the size of death toll and after a while 250 millions dollars were allocated to Israel. There are diverse explanations for this US-Israeli solidarity. Some believe the Jews in the U. S. constitute an extremely strong financial and political group. Due to that they are abundantly represented in the supreme bodies of power; I mean so called pro-Israel lobby. Another widespread opinion is that Israel is under full control of the U. S. and irrevocably does what he’s told like a puppet.
– What is common, in your opinion, between Israeli-Palestinian tensions and armed conflict on the territory of former Ukraine?
– Generally, these are quite different stories, but there’re shared circumstances in both of them. The Kiev regime is also discriminating people on ethnic and cultural grounds, while creating a so called ‘titular nation’. Like in Gaza, an unlimited shelling of residential areas is conducted in the East of Ukraine, which has civilians killed in its outcome. Actually, the situation in Ukraine is very complicated and tangled. It’s hard to comprehend what’s going on there in fact, for the information that comes thence proves to be highly contradictory, it even seems like one broadcasts from the Moon, other from Mars. Much depends on how people will manage the situation themselves. Everyone has already understood that Russia has no will to openly enter into the conflict in Novorossiya. But this does not actually mean that Novorossiya is doomed to defeat. Once it gets an ideology which the population of other part of Ukraine would welcome, it will overcome.
To my mind, one should take more initiative in his hands, not to sit out in trenches! They need to move on towards Kiev or at least onto Kharkov. The dynamics, that’s what civil wars of that type demand. The best defence is attack. If Russia had rendered assistance and closed the airspace above Donetsk, like NATO countries once shielded Bengazi, the events would have taken different course. But the Russian government tries to reveal itself as less as possible. That could be perceived nearly as a treachery or as a real assessment of limitedness of their own strength. Let us not discount such version. The President and his administration are responsible for all Russia and it’s quite probable that Russia is not in a state to accept risks of a great confrontation. We can conduct any discourse we like, but the governance over a country means serious responsibility before the people.
– In one of your recent publications you have given a very picturesque example of the balance of forces in the world…
– Yes, Russia is struggling in the U. N., like a fish which beats itself over the ice, claiming to protect the people of Donbas, while Americans just take their chance and start shelling the Iraq territory. This indicates how differently the counries see themselves on the world stage. The U. S., once they have necessity to shell, ask nobody and each time find some ‘weighty’ reasons what it should be done for. Why then America is permitted to interfere into another states’ affairs and Russia is not? Why one should protect Yezidis but not Donbas people? You can get angry and upset on this occasion, or take it for granted that life is unjust. A tycoon may park his car wherever he sees convenient for himself and erect buildings wherever he wants, while we may not. So it goes with America. When they began to talk that Russia had risen from her knees, we didn’t realize she had not still been standing upright. Nowadays Russia isn’t allmighty, unfortunately, she can not do what she wishes. But, thank God, they aren’t able to do with her whatever pleases. Although, to judge from American media, it is not already a sanction agenda but that of bombing those Russian troops which might be situated in Ukraine. A question arises I can’t easily answer to: could Russian army withstand to the U. S. bombing?
– It’s interesting! In Russia, whether within the expert community or in public discussions, noone considers such possibility, as everybody is firmly assured Americans won’t thrust to us. And you are saying such a thing…
– Everything is quite possible. The U. S. always hold this issue on agenda. Russian rulers, naturally, conceive this, while they not broadcast such information by TV in order not to disturb the people, because it is not clear how the folk would take it.
– And what about that sacramental briefcase with a button?
– And what? If, let’s suppose, Russian troops anyway get into Ukraine, and the U. S. commit a bombing attack against them, the Russian authorities will be in hard conditions to decidedly press the button. More probably, Russia will try to make a conventional counterstrike in such situation, but will she be lucky in this? An open question.
– According to the public mind, the current Russiam PM Dmitry Medvedev personalizes a more liberal wing of the power, while the President Putin is closer to patriotic circles. Nevertheless it was liberal Medvedev who entered the Russian troops into South Ossetia during the Georgia-Ossetia conflict…
– Then, in 2008, I followed the situation quite thoroughly. In the first day of that conflict the West was stable in his faith in that Russia won’t take a decision to send her troops, that they won’t pass the Caucasian ridge. I remember how editions opposing the Kremlin all of a sudden began to talk that Russia had ‘delivered up’ Ossetia, that she had betrayed her inhabitants in their hope for help. The next day, when situation turned the other way, they forgot this and cried that Russia had first offended unprotected Georgia. Yes, Medvedev did it, but he didn’t venture to take Tbilisi, though it had been worthwhile to do it, with simultaneously establishing a more friendly regime there. But it shall not be forgot that after Georgia a time came for torn-apart Libya. As I know, Dmitry Anatolievich was against the intervention and insisted on his attitude, though Putin had seemed to prefer to act differently. I have no doubt, as the President, Medvedev was able to insist on his prerogatives. And should he say: ‘Spit on this Ossetia, what’s the need for her’, so it would happen. But how distinct are real Medvedev and real Putin from the image the Kremlin PR machine has constructed for them, we don’t know, as a matter of fact.
– What do you think of sanctions imposed on Russia, what can they turn out for us?
– The U. S. succeeded in hounding their allies in the Western Europe against Russia so that they are now playing for their own loss. Not that for America. It is very hard thing, and an extremely costly thing to compete with her, that’s why nobody wants to withstand to her, includung Russia herself. But now it is not actual issue of willing or unwilling, for the U. S. are trying, figuratively, bend Russia on her knees once again in response for her exceedingly self-abundant behavior. Democrats and Republicans equally stick to it. There is an isolationist wing among Republicans, but it doesn’t seem to me they have any real chance to gain power. It is, certainly, disadvantageous thing. The sanctions, they entail one sufficient problem of conservation of military technologies and dual-use technologies. It means rebuilding the Cold war times situation, when an international treaty was in legal force between all the developed countries, including Japan, America and Europe, prohibiting any supplies of modern equipment to the USSR. It has hardly stricken on Russia. When all developed world, where the principle of labor division works, moves forward, while Russia is to manufacture everything by her own means, it becomes a great burden. How to counteract to that, isn’t quite clear. I suggest, there are two ways: make Japan your partner, maybe at serious costs, or break the EU unanimity and pull Germany to your side. Otherwise the situation looks crucial. It is a vital necessity for Russia to adhere to the developed world.