An obvious result of Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinians in retaliation for the brutal Hamas attack on October 7 is that it has brought the Palestinian struggle back to the forefront of world politics. The question now is whether the Israeli attack on Gaza will provoke an international reaction large enough to significantly affect the status quo ante. Can renewed international attention to the plight of the Palestinians generate greater pressure for a political solution? Or will Israel once again weather this crisis undeterred?
In one way or another, recent years have seen a decline in the solidarity of many states with the Palestinian cause – despite the unchecked encroachment on Palestinian land in the West Bank under the recent wave of Palestinian governments. far right in Israel. In Gaza, the social, economic and humanitarian costs of a fierce blockade have also increased. Yet a kind of international political fatigue, in the context of a low-intensity conflict and a slowly protracted humanitarian crisis, often replaced by the urgency of other global catastrophes, had emptied the Palestinian cause of a much of its international attention.
Furthermore, in recent years, Israel has invested much effort to improve its bilateral relations with several formerly hostile states, notably in the Middle East and North Africa. In 2020, the Abraham Accords normalized Israel’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain. More recently, Israel and Saudi Arabia, led by the United States, are refining a much-talked-about “deal of the century,” now either off the table entirely or contingent on some sort of solution. . for a Palestinian state. Among the signatories of the Abraham Accords, only Bahrain, like Jordan, withdrew its ambassador from Israel following the Gaza crisis.
Even the Turkish government, with its historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, has significantly eased tensions with Israel, certainly in comparison to the combative approach taken by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2010, before the war in Syria (between others). concerns) has relegated the Palestinian cause to the priority of Ankara. In September, the first-ever meeting between Erdoğan and Benjamin Netanyahu, on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, was hailed by both sides as a sign of a thaw in bilateral relations. Turkey then appointed a new ambassador to Israel the day before the October 7 Hamas attack. The ambassador has since been recalled and relations with Israel have now sunk to new lows, with Erdoğan calling Israel a “terrorist” state and demanding that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) be deployed in Israel to check for the presence of nuclear weapons.
Also in Africa – a region historically favorable to the Palestinian struggle – Israel has made very significant progress. After the fall of President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and in the context of the Abraham Accords, Israel normalized relations with Sudan. Israel also restored diplomatic relations with Chad, now in the freezer after the Chadian government recalled its ambassador following the Gaza offensive.
More generally, in recent years, Israel has made every effort to seek deeper cooperation agreements, particularly in the area of security, with a number of sub-Saharan African states, including Nigeria, Rwanda and the Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, Israeli relations with Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Uganda have reached an unprecedented level. Israel’s ties with African states improved to the point that it was invited to become an observer state of the African Union, a decision that was reversed when Algeria and South Africa put foot on the ground, causing diplomatic turmoil at the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa in February 2023. Ababa Summit.
As for Latin America, pro-Palestinian sentiments were high during the Gaza wars of 2008-2009 and 2014, with most of the region deciding after 2010 to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Pro-Palestinian positions radically reversed when a wave of right-wing governments took power in several Latin American countries between 2015 and 2019. Encouraged by Donald Trump’s administration in the United States, Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil , Jeanine Añez in Bolivia and others espoused very right-wing pro-Israeli views.
With the latest shift to the left, Latin America has essentially returned to its multilateralist tradition of greater commitment to Palestinian self-determination. The Israeli attack on Gaza therefore aroused strong Latin American condemnations, beyond the usual detractors such as Cuba and Venezuela: Colombia, Chile and Honduras recalled their ambassadors; Bolivia broke off relations. But there are significant exceptions, notably in Central America, and now also in Argentina, where the imminent inauguration of hard-line, pro-Israel politician Javier Milei promises to further fragment the region’s response.
The Israeli attack on Gaza has sparked strong Latin American condemnations, beyond the usual detractors.
In Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, seeking to play the role of seasoned statesman and mediator while his country chaired the UN Security Council, initially condemned Israel more cautiously than some of its neighbors. But recent rows over Israeli intelligence, suggesting that Brazil followed Israeli orders to arrest suspected Hezbollah members in Brazil, and the Israeli ambassador’s recent meeting with Bolsonaro have further soured relations in recent years. recent weeks.
Unlike the United States, Western Europe and most of NATO, China and Russia both recognize Palestinian statehood, within 1967 borders and with its capital in Jerusalem -East. But neither state has made defending Palestinian rights an important aspect of its foreign policy in recent years. Despite some tensions over Russia’s ties to Iran and Syria, Israel has been careful to maintain good relations with Russia, even though the war in Ukraine has generated ill will between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the President Vladimir Putin.
China, meanwhile, is Israel’s second largest trading partner and maintains good enough relations that the South China Morning Post to proclaim that “close economic ties between Israel and China worked well – until the Gaza conflict.”
India – true to its Nehruvian heritage of non-alignment and Indira Gandhi’s solidarity with the Palestine Liberation Organization (India was the first non-Arab state to recognize the PLO) – also recognizes Palestinian statehood. But the country has significantly reconciled with Israel since Prime Minister Rao’s overture in 1992. Israel’s support for India during the Kargil War against Pakistan in 1999 played an important role in this radical change .
Over the past decade, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while formally supporting India’s traditional multilateralist stance, has gone even further, making close ties with Israel a symbolic element of his Hindu nationalist hostility toward domestic Muslims and the historical enemy Pakistan. Departing from its long-standing multilateral position, India even abstained from the October 27 vote in the UN General Assembly calling for a truce in Gaza to pave the way for a cessation of hostilities. Crucially, India is now the largest buyer of Israeli weapons in the world.
Among the BRICS countries, South Africa has remained the most solidly partisan in its continued denunciation of Israeli apartheid. The government withdrew its ambassador and Parliament called for an outright severance of diplomatic relations until Israel agreed to a ceasefire.
Of course, the scale of Israel’s retaliation against Gaza changes everything. Encouraged by rising public opinion, many governments have denounced Israel’s massacre of innocent civilians and its violations of international law and basic human rights.
This is particularly true in the Middle East, where the issue is once again galvanizing public opinion. At the joint Arab League-Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit Nov. 11 in Riyadh, heads of state rejected the notion that Israel was acting in self-defense, urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Israeli “war crimes” and called for a ban on arms sales to Israel and demanded that the UN adopt a binding resolution to end Israeli aggression. It was an outsized show of unity in an otherwise divided region, with an Iranian president visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time since 2012.
Encouraged by the rise in public opinion, many governments have denounced the massacres of innocent civilians perpetrated by Israel.
Rhetorically charged, the Riyadh summit nevertheless did not result in concrete measures. Proposals such as severing economic ties, reducing oil supplies or banning the transit of American weapons to Israel have not met with unanimous approval. But Arab states, increasingly frustrated with what they see as a free pass from the West to Israel for its atrocities, are beginning to resort to bigger geopolitical power plays. The recent visit to China by foreign ministers from Arab and Muslim-majority states was a bold move for the region, although it is billed as the first stop in a broader diplomatic tour. It was also very well received in Beijing, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi denouncing the…