HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa sets Bahrain’s firm stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict at the 19th IISS Manama Dialogue 2023
In a pivotal keynote address delivered at the 19th International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) Manama Dialogue 2023, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Bahrain, solidified his nation’s unwavering position on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Underscoring Bahrain’s commitment to peace and stability in the region, HRH Prince Salman emphasised a clear set of “red lines” that must be respected to achieve a just and lasting resolution. These key principles encompassed critical issues such as forced displacement, reoccupation, territorial reduction, and terrorism, fostering an atmosphere conducive to productive negotiations.
Amidst the backdrop of ongoing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians, the Middle East witnessed Prince Salman’s address as a defining moment in Bahrain’s proactive engagement while striving for peaceful coexistence. His remarks reflected a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding the conflict, seeking to prevent any further escalation and ensure the protection of rights and security for both peoples.
His Royal Highness said, “Let me be extremely clear on what matters to the Kingdom of Bahrain. There must be no forced displacement of Palestinians in Gaza, now or ever. There must be no reoccupation of Gaza. There must be no reduction in Gaza’s territory. And on the other side, there must be no terrorism directed from Gaza against the Israeli public. Those are the red lines.”
The Manama Dialogue, the Middle East’s premier security and defence conference, held from November 17 to 19 at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain, gathers leaders from around the globe. Over three days, the forum discussed and engaged on timely topics that are relevant to the region and the larger world.
During his address, HRH Prince Salman reiterated Bahrain’s condemnation of the October 7 attack on Hamas as well as Israel’s retaliation, which has resulted in the death of 11,000 Gazans and left many more living in an intolerable situation without access to basic necessities such as electricity, running water, and medical care.
His Royal Highness also set out the conditions necessary for ‘breaking the cycle of violence,’ a feat that will only be made possible through the release of innocents and non-combatants. His Royal Highness stressed that the release of hostages is a pre-requisite to a pause in hostilities.
Additionally, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister called for the rule of international law to be fully implemented to ensure that the Gazan people have access to humanitarian aid.
His Royal Highness also emphasised that lasting peace will only be secured through a two-state solution that enshrines the rights of the Palestinian people. The Crown Prince said that this process requires international leadership and that the United States is indispensable in this regard.
To ensure lasting peace, His Royal Highness also stressed that, in the aftermath of conflict, elections must be held to offer the Palestinian people a strong and unified leadership. This process must be led by an interlocutor and partner who can broker an end to violence and deliver the prospect of a viable and independent Palestinian state that will also guarantee security and stability for its neighbour, Israel.
In conclusion, His Royal Highness asserted that military conflict must not be the final arbiter. The Crown Prince stated that diplomacy and the rule of international law must be the principal mechanisms for conflict resolution, noting that if the world does not work across all political lines to make sure that the voice of reason is heard, it risks creating conditions for acts of violence to spread globally.
In his opening remarks, IISS executive chairman Sir John Chipman also called for active defence diplomacy to find a resolution to the Hamas-Israel conflict.
“Good strategy is conducted with a cool head and a warm heart. It is in that spirit that we convene this year’s summit,” he said.
Sir Chipman described HRH Prince Salman as an example of someone who follows such a strategy.
“Good strategy can only be crafted with a cool head and a warm heart. We have such a strategist with us today. He insists that accurate data be the source of informed decisions, has made empathy his guiding principle, good governance his mission, and savvy execution his inspiration for further ambition in the service of his nation. In other words, he is a leader.”
Held annually since 2004 in Bahrain, the dialogue is a central element of the Middle East’s security architecture. It enables national leaders, ministers, and policymakers from the Middle East, North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia to gather together to discuss the most pressing regional security issues and to share policy responses.