Currently, the most central theme all over the world is by far Israel-Gaza War. Israel-Gaza War began on Oct. 7 with a surprise attack by Hamas and continues to this day. The war is not only an issue within the Middle East, but it affects the whole world. Many countries, including Europe and Latin America, are indicating their stances towards the war. This article introduces the war and the stances of various countries towards it.
It refers to a war that began when Hamas, the militant faction that rules Gaza, launched a massive attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, on the Sabbath which is the Jewish day of worship. Israel fired back after Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister stated that Israel and Hamas were at war after the attack, making the war official. It can be argued that Hamas was at fault based on the attack, but in reality, it was not. This is because Israel has systematically attacked Gaza throughout the year before the attack. According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA), by the end of Sept., there were 230 Palestinians who had been killed by Israeli forces and Jewish settlers, that is, Jews who moved to Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands.
The Middle East
How about looking at the Middle East which is geographically close to Israel and Palestine? Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, told Ismail Haniyeh, a senior political leader of Hamas that “Iran will not participate in the war between Israel and Hamas.” Iran has provided direct and indirect support to Hamas so far. Therefore, the official statement draws attention because it is the first time after the war that it has officially declared that Iran will not participate in the war. Analysts say that Iran has chosen not to be involved in the confrontation. Khamenei’s remarks indicate that Iran does not participate in the war but will continue to help Hamas. On the other hand, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020, tries to maintain diplomatic relations with Israel despite Israeli military attacks on Gaza. According to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on Nov. 19, Khamenei urged Islamic countries to cut off political and economic relations with Israel even for a limited period of time. Khamenei’s remarks are expected to change the positions of countries that have established diplomatic relations with Israel in the Islamic world, Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.
Khamenei enjoins Islamic countries to cut off relations with Israel, but there are countries that have already cut relations with Israel. On Oct. 31, Bolivia announced that it severed all diplomatic ties to Israel following the links severed in 2009 due to Israel’s military attacks on Gaza. Colombia, Chile, and Honduras are also countries in Latin America that express dissatisfaction with Israel’s actions although severance of diplomatic relations have not progressed. All three countries summoned the ambassador to Israel to criticize Israel for attacking Gaza. Especially, relations between Colombia and Israel became uncomfortable after Israel demanded that Gustavo Petro, the president of Colombia, criticize Hamas and support Israel.
There are three major countries that speak out in Europe. First, on Nov. 1, the chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz urged a pause in combat in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid. He emphasized Israel’s importance, including defending Israel’s right to take action against Hamas attacks. On Nov. 19, Germany defined Hamas as a terrorist organization and declared solidarity with Israel. Emmanuel Macron, the president of France expressed concern to Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel due to a series of civilian deaths in Gaza. He said by phone with Netanyahu, “There is an absolute necessity to distinguish terrorists (Hamas) from the general population.”
In Asia, readers should focus on the position of Turkey and China. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey criticized the German government’s positions saying that “It is not reasonable to support Israel out of guilt over the Holocaust.” He described Hamas as a liberation group, not a terrorist organization while he criticized Israel for the massacre in Gaza. China expressed its active willingness to solve the Middle East problem through the United Nations (UN). Therefore, it has been analyzed in various ways. Currently, the UN was criticized for failing to act a proper role, so some analysts stated that China as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been trying to restore the UN and obtain hegemony in the Middle East.
The last countries which readers pay attention to are the U.S. and Qatar. First of all, Joe Biden, the president of the U.S., has been pursuing pro-Israel policies, continuously supporting Israel and providing military support to Israeli forces. However, due to the prolonged war, there has currently been a state of division in the U.S., with protests for and against Israel. Qatar played a key role in the war. On Nov. 22, Israel and Hamas successfully reached a temporary cease-fire through Qatar’s mediation, but negotiations on the release of hostages have yet to be done properly. The cease-fire was carried out by Qatar exchanging demands of Israel and Hamas amid the intervention of the U.S. This was possible because Qatar had friendly relations with the U.S. and Israel, also was in a special position to be trusted by Hamas. Qatar helped the U.S. withdraw its troops in Afghanistan where the Taliban gained power in 2021. Qatar also helped to nail down the cease-fire. Qatar’s move seemed to be aimed at enhancing its soft power (intangible potential in culture, diplomacy and the arts). Consequently, it tried to differentiate itself from other Arab countries, and enhance its international status.
The truce between Israel and Hamas was negotiated on Nov. 22., but it is not the end of the war, so people should not be relieved. According to Sung Il-kwang, from the Center for the Middle East and Islamic Studies at Korea University, the war will continue for as long as a month. “If the war is prolonged, the international community’s condemnation of Israel will increase and the pro-Israel policies of President Biden will inevitably be the subject of strong criticism.” he said.
By Kim Ye-rin | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Seo Ah-hyun | email@example.com