German parliamentarian Rolf Mützenich has little hope for a speedy political solution to the Middle East conflict. A two-state solution is now 'a faraway prospect,' the Social Democrat says in an interview with DW.
DW: You have been following the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for some time and have in the past repeatedly called the situation hopeless. What words would you use to describe the current situation?
Rolf Mützenich: The situation remains hopeless, especially as the parties to the conflict on both sides are taking little account of the civilian population. Despite all efforts to find a political settlement in recent years, it has not been possible to resolve this conflict politically.
What would need to change to allow a political solution to the conflict to even come back into consideration?
My hope is that a change of generations will occur in the political decision-making bodies and this new generation will be better able to compromise. The international community will have to consider whether it may still be possible to reach a two-state solution in the coming years. It is not completely off the table, but I see it as a faraway prospect. In the present situation it does not seem to me to be the right approach to expend all energy in trying to find a long-term political solution during the short period a ceasefire is in effect. Instead, efforts should concentrate on preventing another outbreak of violence.
What should the international community do to bring this about?
The international community must make it clear to the Palestinian side that younger decision makers are needed who are capable of new policy approaches - and that Fatah needs to be reformed, as it has proved to be prone to corruption. In addition, they must try to dissuade governments from supporting Hamas. They must force Israel to stop building new settlements.
What options does the international community have to increase this pressure?
Even Israel knows it is dependent on the international community and its financial support. That's where it could start.
Many mediation attempts have already failed. Who might currently come in question as a mediator?
The problem is that the parties to the conflict either do not accept the states that are still ready to serve as mediators, or accuse them of pursuing only their own interests. What is needed is not new mediators, but a necessary understanding that in the long-term agreements are only possible if you are willing to make compromises.
Would it help if regional powers such as Iran or Egypt played a bigger role?
Because of its history and its current situation, Iran would not be accepted as a neutral mediator. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is suppressed, and Hamas sees itself affected indirectly. That's why I do not believe that regional actors - not even Turkey - can currently play a special role here.
What role could Germany play in mediation?
Germany can play a special role within the European Union, if it succeeds in developing an EU foreign and security policy for the Gaza conflict. If the EU will agree on joint steps, Germany in particular must ensure they are adhered to.
So far Germany has hardly voiced any criticism of Israel's actions. Should the government continue this policy?
The German government is right to point out that Hamas, with its countless rocket attacks over the past few weeks, also wanted to deliberately spread terror among the civilian population in Israel - thus, of course, provoking Israel's right to self-defense. But there is also criticism of Israel's sometimes disproportionate actions. In particular, when it comes to attacks on international institutions.