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Mrs Tinubu and the blood-stained hands of Israeli envoys

A few days ago, a major national daily published on its front cover a photograph of two Israeli envoys – Ambassador Michael Freeman and Deputy Ambassador,…

A few days ago, a major national daily published on its front cover a photograph of two Israeli envoys – Ambassador Michael Freeman and Deputy Ambassador, Mrs Anbar Lipman Garden, with a caption “a courtesy visit of the envoys to the First Lady at the State House, Abuja”. The stories of the visit as released by the Office of the First Lady have been published earlier in some national newspapers. The Israeli ambassador was quoted to have expressed appreciation for the First Lady’s initiative on programs to support women and children. In Gaza, the Israeli regime for whom the diplomat speaks for, women and children are being bombed to smithereens, with their homes, worship places, markets, hospitals turned to their burial grounds.

Certainly, this visit came at a point that Israel is considered an international outlaw, having severally spurned key United Nations resolutions to halt its war of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

So far, Israel has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, among whom are estimated 20, 000 women and children, and the hands Mrs Tinubu has insensitively chosen to shake are dripping with the innocent blood of more than 20,000 women and children of Gaza, whose only offence is being Arab Palestinians. From the reported exchange between Mrs Tinubu and the Israeli envoys, there was no indication that Mrs Tinubu expressed the slightest concerns about the children and women in Gaza, the routine targets of Israeli relentless bombardment and genocidal attack, which has currently escalated with threats to bomb and attack their last refugee camp in Rafah.

The Presidency, for which Mrs Tinubu’s Office is an integral part, has again demonstrated insensitivity or even naivety to a crucial international question for which most countries in the Global South have a near consensus. It is ironic to say the least that while Nigeria and other 142 countries at the United Nations General Assembly last week voted to expand Palestinian rights at the international body in clear chastisement of Israeli obstinacy and contempt for international law, norm and practice for which the Israeli UN representative responded by shredding the UN charter. Mrs Tinubu was shaking the blood-stained hands of Israeli diplomats here.

Beyond the moral complicity of Mrs Tinubu and by extension, her husband’s presidency in the bloody genocide of the Israeli regime, the government may have damaged the potential gains of its extensive economic diplomacy that President Tinubu has recently undertaken with his high-level meetings in Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia which are expected to attract significant investments to Nigeria from these key Arab economic hubs. Receiving Israeli diplomats at the height of Israeli regime’s intransigence and total disregard and snub to the sensitivities of her Arab neighbours is an incredibly naïve politics that will have consequences for the government’s declared aim of being open to business.

From Ankara (Turkey), Tehran (Iran) to Malaysia, Indonesia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arab, Nigerian Presidency’s reckless audacity to hobnob with the Israeli regime, currently at the peak of its murderous and bloody campaign in Gaza, for which women and children are the principal victims, would create a chill and point to a disconnect between policy, decorum and comportment.

Nigeria has a longstanding policy like many African countries which explicitly underlines the two-state solution to the longstanding problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The refusal of the Israeli regime to accept or even consider this international consensus on the solution to the conflict which the U.N General Secretary referred to, in one of his major speeches as the trigger for the October 7th Hamas attacks, demonstrates Israel’s culpability in the run up to and aftermath of the heinous attack.

It does not stretch the imagination too far that Israel’s only security guarantee is a responsible Palestinian state, that will not be held accountable but will exercise authority, including the use of legitimate violence, against outlaws within its jurisdiction. However, the ideological bigotry of Zionism, with its racist exclusion of others, except the “chosen ones” blinds the Israeli regime from a political framework of inclusion and good neighbourliness.

Nigeria’s presidency through the office of the First Lady has inserted itself in the vortex of the Israeli self-harmed policy of racist exclusion and arrogance.

At home, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very divisive and polarizing issue. And with the Israeli regime’s campaign of bloody violence in Gaza, broadcast on television screens daily, the First Lady has chosen to trample on the sensitivity of a considerable number of Nigerians who are offended by the extremely murderous campaign of the Israeli regime.

In economic terms, there is nothing Israel can offer to Nigeria now. Abuja’s main foreign policy thrust as articulated by the Presidency is to attract investors and a good number of these investments are expected from the Global South, including key Arab economies from the Middle East, which Mrs Tinubu has chosen to thumb their noses.

At a time, Israel’s key ally, the United States is threatening to withhold military and other economic assistance to dissuade the regime from further bombardment and attacks at the last major refugee abode of more than a million Palestinians in Rafah, close to the Egyptian border, Mrs Tinubu’s embrace of the blood-stained hands of Israeli diplomats sends the wrong signal that we stand with an international pariah, whose diplomats we would have encouraged to purchase a one-way ticket out of our shores.

Mrs Tinubu, by the way, is entitled to her sentiment and even passion but this must not be allowed to intrude into state matters and conflating such sentiment and emotions as state policy, has consequences to cast doubt on the integrity of state policy and undermining its efficacy on other critical sector, especially the imperative for economic recovery which would tap from the goodwill of international investors.

The visit of the Israeli diplomats at this particular time to the Presidency, when other key countries in the Global South are at the forefront of restraining and constraining Israeli genocidal war in Gaza through diverse credible international platforms like the United Nations, International Court of Justice, etc does not endear Nigeria to a trust-worthy leadership role in the Global South and the talk of Nigeria’s candidature for the permanent member of the UN Security Council would elicit frowns, if not outright laughter in most capitals of the Global South and even nearer home in Africa.

Mr Onunaiju, a member of a think tank, wrote from the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja

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