Diplomatic divide grows as Israel unleashes humanitarian crisis on Gaza

Diplomatic divide grows as Israel unleashes humanitarian crisis on Gaza. — IANS

Vikas Datta

New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) Condemning Israel’s disproportionate and indiscriminate offensive in Gaza following the Hamas attack, this country decided to snap diplomatic relations with it. Was it one of Israel’s few Arab neighbours that have ties with it but cannot stay silent any longer to the growing humanitarian crisis in the blockaded densely-populated enclave? No.

It was actually faraway Bolivia, which, on October 31, announced it had “decided to break diplomatic relations with the Israeli state in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive taking place in the Gaza Strip”.

The South American nation, which broke off ties with Israel in 2009 too after its Gaza invasion, was not the only one to go to the diplomatic extreme step over the Gaza conflict, as two other Latin American countries also recalled their ambassadors.

One of these was Colombia whose President and former guerrilla leader Gustavo Petro had also engaged in a bitter war of words with the Israeli envoy earlier in October, citing how Israeli agents had provided training and equipment to the FARC and other paramilitary groups. The other was Chile, which hosts one of the oldest and largest Palestinian communities outside the Arab world.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric, in a post on X, accused Israel of “unacceptable violations of International Humanitarian Law” and following a policy of “collective punishment” of the people of Gaza, as he announced the recall of the ambassador. His Colombian counterpart called the attacks a “massacre of the Palestinian people”.

Brazil was also at the forefront of calling for a ceasefire, also moving a proposal for this in the UN Security Council but the US vetoed it.

On the other hand, Israel withdrew its envoy from Turkey over its President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s blunt speeches to “re-evaluate diplomatic ties”.

It was only after the Latin Americans, did some of the Arab countries move on the bilateral diplomatic front.

Jordan, which had become only the second Arab nation to ink a peace treaty with Israel in the 1990s, recalled its envoy and intimated the Israeli Foreign Ministry not to send back its envoy, who had left the country as the violence began. However, it had earlier moved and secured passage of a resolution in the UN General Assembly calling for a ceasefire.

Bahrain, which had come to an understanding with Israel in 2020 under then US President Donald Trump-pushed Abraham Accords, also recalled its envoy from Israel and announced that Israel’s Ambassador in Manama had left “a while ago”. It, however, made no mention of cutting economic relations as the Gulf kingdom’s parliament had demanded.

The UAE and Morocco, the other two Abraham Accord members, are yet to act though deploring the violence, as is Egypt.

However, the increasing tempo of the Israeli attacks and the mounting number of fatalities, overwhelmingly civilian, in the Gaza Strip – and now increasingly, in the West Bank too – even as Benjamin Netanyhahu’s government firmly rules out any ceasefire, and its supporters, chiefly the US, limit their call to “humanitarian pauses”, is leading to a large potential blowback for both Israel and its Western allies from rest of the world beyond the Middle East.

The Israeli cause is not helped by its intemperate calls for the resignation of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres after he cited the historical context behind the current spell of violence, its rather brusque behaviour with those it believes are not accepting its stand, and its trenchant attitude towards UN relief agencies and global humanitarian groups who are crying hoarse over the situation in Gaza.

While the US and most of the European countries stand firmly behind Israel, there are growing murmurs in the continent too, with Ireland, Norway, and Spain expressing some disquiet over the current situation in Gaza.

The rest, from South Africa to Mexico, and Indonesia to Cuba, are in favour of a ceasefire, and what could be possibly worrying for Israel, increasingly laying stress on the two-state solution.  

A resolution, moved by Jordan and 40 other countries, calling for a humanitarian truce in Gaza was passed by the UN General Assembly on October 26.

Technically unenforceable but politically significant, the motion, which made no mention of Hamas or the hostages it took, made for some interesting insights into its support as it garnered 121 votes, 14 against, and 44 abstentions.

Prior to it, a Canadian proposal, which included condemnation of Hamas and its hostage-taking only, failed as with 88 votes in favour, it could not get the required two-thirds majority. 55 nations were against, and 23 abstained.

The Jordanian proposal had 14 countries voting against it. Apart from Israel and the US, the others were Austria, Croatia, Czechia, Fiji, Guatemala, Hungary, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, and Tonga.

The abstainers included most of the other European countries, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and India – for the first time on a vote on a Palestinian issue, while the African contingent only included Cameroon, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Zambia.

The 121 in favour included the entire Arab and Muslim world, Russia, China, as well as all the Caribbean nations, Asean members save the Philippines, all of Africa except the four above, virtually all of Central and South America, most of the remaining Asian nations while in Europe, Norway abandoned its Scandinavian neighbours to support the proposal as did Belgium, France, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, and some smaller countries. New Zealand was another supporter.

The resolutions in the General Assembly do not have the same weight as those of the Security Council, but they indicate thinking of most of the world – and in case, it is that the blood-letting has gone too far and without succour. Will the other side heed this?

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