The suffering in Gaza and the expansion of the conflict have increased international pressure on Israel. international

The growing suffering of civilians in Gaza and the escalation of the conflict in the Red Sea are leading to increasing international pressure on the Israeli government to halt its offensive in the Strip and eventually agree to negotiate a two-state solution, which the Prime Minister openly acknowledged. has been formally rejected. Benjamin Netanyahu. In the context of maximum friction, US President Joe Biden spoke to the Israeli leader this Friday. In their first known conversation since December 23, Biden reiterated to Netanyahu that Israel must accept the future creation of a Palestinian state.

This week’s Davos forum offered a glimpse of this movement of greater insistence on Israel, with the participation of the United States, Arab countries, European actors, and potentially, indirectly, China, with different roles, which are of concern. Looks at the disruption as well. Trade in the Red Sea, which affects its exports. Netanyahu’s announcement on Thursday afternoon of his rejection of the two-state solution can be understood as a public response to a growing and only partly public wave of pressure.

The latter is not new: Netanyahu has never considered that option. However, signs of innovation can be seen in the growing international campaign to achieve this. In Davos, the clearest message was probably an intervention in a debate by Senator Christopher Coons of Delaware, whose voice is important for being a very close ally of President Joe Biden and not being subject to the warnings of government positions.

Israel's President, Isaac Herzog, during his speech at the Davos forum on January 18.
Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, during his speech at the Davos forum on January 18. Associated Press/LaPresse

“Civilian suffering in Gaza is at an unacceptable level,” Coons said. “Israeli society must reconsider whether Hamas and Fatah’s strategy was wise and whether it is sustainable for Israel to remain on this path. I say no. We have talked about Palestinian statehood for a long time, but there has been no progress. Now is the time to act boldly,” the senator acknowledged. Coons also indicated Washington’s displeasure with Netanyahu’s attitude. Asked whether a two-state solution is viable while he is in power, the senator said Netanyahu has made a career out of rejecting it. But now because of the election cycle it has become necessary to take action, among other things. A return to the White House for Donald Trump would, in all likelihood, guarantee Netanyahu even more than Biden has allowed so far.

In a comment reported by the newspaper political In a hallway at Davos, Coons continued by pointing to a huge lever of pressure on the United States that Washington has never used: military aid to Israel. Koons was willing to modify the terms of support, possibly downwards. US military support is key to Israel’s superiority and, in addition to all historical supplies, the Biden administration has continued that support, bypassing Congress, even in the current circumstances of Israel’s attack on Gaza. Washington has criticized attacks that kill civilians, but continues to supply bombs that kill them. Many experts consider Coons a reliable indicator of Biden’s thinking, and there was a feeling at Davos that the US administration has reached a high level of fatigue with Netanyahu and an awareness of the harm of continuing this way, which Inspires change in activism.

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The two-state solution was the mantra repeated by practically all the political leaders who paraded in Davos this week. Notably, at the same Coons panel, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud said: “It is important to note that there is a general agreement here,” he said, referring to the two-state solution. Asked whether, within the framework of a political settlement including a state for the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel as a state, the minister replied: “Without a doubt.”

White House security adviser Jake Sullivan, in a speech at a plenum, made it clear that the inevitable solution framework is one that involves two states with security guarantees for Israel and, above all, normalization of relations with Arab countries. . With whom this has not happened yet. Newspaper financial Times This week’s report said that Arab countries are preparing a plan on similar lines.

A group of people walk through collapsed buildings in the Al Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza on January 19.
A group of people walk through collapsed buildings in the Al Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza on January 19. Mohammed Saber (EFE)

impose peace

In this context of growing unrest with Israel, one can read this Friday’s statement by the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, who acknowledged that the two-state solution “must be imposed from abroad.” Peace” and has pointed to Israel as a source of funding for Hamas. However, the EU is grappling with internal divisions over how far to push Israeli leaders, not least because of Germany’s wariness.

In the framework of the summit of non-aligned countries, which is being held in Rwanda and brings together 120 countries, many leaders expressed their strong disapproval of Israel’s response to the Hamas attack.

These diplomatic moves come after more than 100 days of conflict following Hamas attacks on Israel. The Israeli response is increasing the level of suffering among Palestinian citizens that has created extraordinary outrage in most societies around the world. As Sullivan said, the expansion of the conflict in the Red Sea affects a very important sea route and, therefore, has consequences on a global scale. Also, in a parallel unrest, Iran has bombed Iraq, Syria and Pakistan, all allies, to attack suspected militants following a serious attack in Kerman at the beginning of the year.

Experts continue to believe that Iran and its ally Hezbollah have no political intention to escalate the conflict, as shown by the fact that they have not attempted to do so in more than three months. But, on the one hand, stressful situations increase risks and unwanted events. On the other hand, according to many experts, Iran does not exercise full control over its allies, and the Houthis who fired on commercial ships off Yemen are acting on their own decision rather than at the suggestion of Tehran. Thus, even if there is no will, according to Sullivan, “the risk of full escalation remains real”.

internal and external criticism

But even if that doesn’t happen, the situation has reached the point where the interest of many lead actors in acting to stop the crisis is already very high. Many Western countries, particularly the United States, face harsh criticism for their response to the Israeli bombings, which are considered foolish both in their societies and in the rest of the world. Arab leaders face similar pressures within their societies.

The trade disruption takes the crisis to another level for China. Although the Houthis have assured that they will not attack Russian or Chinese cargo ships, the chaos and danger in those waters is very high and influences the decisions of shipping companies. It is no coincidence that Beijing issued a statement this Thursday calling on “all relevant parties” to guarantee the safety of navigation in the Red Sea. Beijing has leverage in the region because of its close ties with Iran, which, under Western sanctions, is its major commercial supplier to China.

China has brokered a restart in ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which maintains a fragile ceasefire in its fight against the Houthis in Yemen. And it is also a close ally of Pakistan, which now maintains tensions with Tehran due to the Iranian shots and Pakistani reaction. Islamabad is preparing to hold elections, and hence is facing high political tension.

It is this context that motivates the argument for moving to a new phase of pressure. However, nothing ensures that it will size up enough to make a significant impact. For decades, the United States has never acted on decisions to restrain Israel, neither in its colonization and occupation nor in its military operations. It remains to be seen whether that will ultimately happen. Even if that happens, it remains to be seen whether Netanyahu, whose political career depends on this conflict continuing at maximum intensity, will succumb to it. Similar to the Houthis, however, there is pressure from Tehran and, further, from Beijing to stop bombing ships.

A group of Houthi fighters in a vehicle in Sanaa on 14 January.
A group of Houthi fighters in a vehicle in Sanaa on 14 January. AP

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