Visiting Jerusalem, Edgars Rinkēvičs hails Riga’s ‘balanced position’ on Mideast, criticizes Israel’s use of lethal force during Gaza riots
Anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations and other international bodies do very little to advance a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the foreign minister of Latvia said last week during a visit to Israel.
In an interview with The Times of Israel, Edgars Rinkēvičs also criticized the Jewish state’s “disproportionate” response to recent protests at the Gaza border, though he stressed that Israel had the right to defend itself.
“Over the years there have been many resolutions at the [UN] General Assembly condemning Israel, calling for the [resumption of the] peace process. But I haven’t seen how those resolutions have helped the overall peace process,” Rinkēvičs said.
“I don’t believe that resolutions can substitute a peace process, direct negotiations with the participation of all the relevant actors,” he added. “Those are very nice documents that we take, of course, seriously, but we don’t believe that this approach really helps the process itself.”
On June 1, the UN Security Council voted on a resolution calling for “measures to guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, and proposing an “international protection mechanism” for them.
Ten countries, including China, France and Russia, voted in favor of the draft, proposed by Kuwait, but it failed to pass due to an American veto.
This coming Wednesday, the Kuwaiti text is set to be voted on again at the General Assembly, where it is expected to pass with a large majority.
Since March 30, some 110 Palestinians have been killed in mass protests along the Gaza border and thousands wounded by Israeli military fire. Dozens of the fatalities were members of terror groups, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have acknowledged. Israel says its troops were defending its border and accuses Hamas of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of the protests.
On international matters such as Israel/Palestine, Latvia, a member of the European Union, is committed to adhering to EU consensus, according to Rinkēvičs.
Whenever such consensus is elusive, Riga will take a “balanced position,” he said, citing abstentions on the UN General Assembly’s November 2012 vote to give Palestine “nonmember state” status and the December 2017 GA vote condemning the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Latvia does not intend to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but is also not thinking about recognizing a Palestinian state at this point, Rinkēvičs said. “We want to see a balanced approach,” he said.