Israel-Hamas war live: Gaza death toll rises, officials say, as Israel launches intense airstrikes | ET REALITY


For 20 months, the Biden administration has attempted to defend its moral position against Russia, condemning its brutal war against Ukraine for indiscriminately killing civilians.

The argument resonated with much of the West, but less so in other parts of the world, which saw the war rather as a conflict between great powers and refused to engage in sanctions or otherwise isolate Russia.

Now, as Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, killing more than 4,300 people since October 7, the Biden administration’s unwavering support risks creating new headwinds in its efforts to win over global public opinion.

Speaking from the Oval Office on Thursday, President Biden linked American support to Ukraine and Israel, describing both nations as democracies fighting enemies determined to “completely annihilate” them. Russia invaded Ukraine and seeks to annex it, while Hamas, the group that controls Gaza and denies Israel’s right to exist, carried out a terrorist attack that killed at least 1,400 people in southern Israel.

But Israel’s counterattack on Gaza, its threats to mount a ground invasion and the United States’ firm embrace of its most important ally in the Middle East have provoked cries of hypocrisy.

These types of accusations are not exactly new in the Middle East conflict. But the dynamics of the dual crises have gone beyond Washington’s desire to rally global support to isolate and punish Russia for invading its neighbor.

Increasingly, the Middle East region is emerging as a renewed front in the fight for influence in the Global South – the collective name for the developing nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America – pitting the West against Russia and China. .

“War in the Middle East will drive a growing wedge between the West and countries like Brazil or Indonesia, key swing states of the Global South,” said Clifford Kupchan, president of the Eurasia Group, a New York-based risk assessment organization. “That will make international cooperation in Ukraine, such as applying sanctions on Russia, even more difficult.”

President Biden repeatedly linked the wars in Ukraine and Gaza during a rare prime-time speech from the Oval Office on Thursday.Credit…Tom Brenner for The New York Times

President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which does not recognize Israel, has condemned the “current injustices against the Palestinian people.” The Gaza war will only worsen the global situation, he said, threatening higher oil prices after the Ukraine war already slowed wheat exports.

President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil criticized the supply of American weapons to Ukraine for “encouraging” the war, but blamed both sides for the conflict and offered to mediate. Brazil, as president of the United Nations Security Council this month, drafted a humanitarian ceasefire resolution in Gaza, which also explicitly condemned the “egregious terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

After the United States vetoed the resolution because it did not mention Israel’s right to self-defense, Brazil’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sérgio França Danese, voiced frustration. “Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza cannot wait any longer,” she said. “Actually, they have waited too long.”

Arab leaders, including President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, lashed out in speeches Saturday at the El Cairo for what they called double standards. .

“Anywhere else, attacking civilian infrastructure and deliberately depriving an entire population of food, water and essential goods would be condemned and held accountable,” King Abdullah said. “International law loses all value if it is applied selectively.”

Palestinians have criticized Western capitals for not expressing outrage over the bombing of Gaza in a similar way to labeling Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure as “barbaric” and “crimes against humanity.”

Tents in Khan Younis, south of Gaza City, for Palestinians displaced by bombing. Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

When war first broke out in Ukraine, Palestinians were elated by the tough stance taken by Western capitals against one country occupying another’s land, said Nour Odeh, a Palestinian political commentator based in Ramallah. “But it seems like the occupation is only bad if it’s done by guys who aren’t on your side.”

In some ways, the Gaza conflict has been a blessing for the Kremlin, taking the spotlight off the Ukraine war and burnishing Russia’s image in the Middle East and Global South. In recent years, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia has sought to restore some of the Soviet Union’s lost influence in the Middle East, intervening militarily in civil wars in Syria and Libya. He has greatly strengthened ties with Iran, a country that Israel considers a national security threat.

Russian support for Hamas has been seen as an extension of those efforts, and Putin compared the siege of Gaza to the World War II siege of Leningrad, a sacred Russian symbol.

China has also been seeking to expand its influence in the Middle East, having recently brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to reset relations. Russia and China have refused to condemn Hamas. Instead, they have criticized Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, especially its decision to cut off water and electricity in Gaza and the number of civilians killed there. They have called for international mediation and a ceasefire before Israel considers its war to have fully begun.

The Palestinian cause has long thrived in the Global South, so the Gaza war has only increased resentments in Africa, Asia and Latin America because the West is treating Ukraine as a special case because it is a European war. . They denounce the money spent arming Ukraine while ignoring international development goals.

There is a perception that the West “cares more about Ukrainian refugees, about the suffering of Ukrainian civilians, than we do when they suffer in Yemen, in Gaza, in Sudan, in Syria,” said Hanna Notte, a Eurasia analyst based in in Berlin at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

This helps illustrate why the West has failed to convince countries like India and Turkey to support sanctions against Russia. Given the situation in Gaza, that effort is unlikely to succeed in the short term.

“It’s a big headache for Western diplomats because they’ve spent a lot of time this year trying to charm the Global South,” said Richard Gowan, U.N. director for the International Crisis Group. “We have seen support and interest in Ukraine wane among UN members over the course of this year.”

Search for victims after a Russian missile attack in the Ukrainian region of Kharkiv. Some critics believe the West is treating the Ukraine war as a special case because it is being fought in Europe.Credit…David Guttenfelder for The New York Times

In Europe, the debate has largely played out on social media, where some commentators have criticized Europe for its hypocrisy over its different approaches to the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, while few politicians have commented directly.

Carl Bildt, former Swedish prime minister, wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that most of the world perceives a double standard in Western policy on the two wars. “For better or worse, this is something we must deal with,” he wrote.

There are signs that that is happening now. Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s top diplomat, said in a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday that cutting off water supplies was a violation of international law, no matter where it occurred. “It is clearly stated that depriving a human community under siege of a basic water supply is contrary to international law, both in Ukraine and in Gaza,” he said.

Some analysts suggested that hostility toward Western policy in Ukraine in certain corners of the world should be taken for granted but could still be addressed tactfully.

During the Cold War, the United States often faced a hostile bloc of nonaligned nations, as well as the Soviet Union and its allies, and still managed to prevail, said John Herbst, former U.S. envoy to Ukraine and diplomat in Israel. and the occupied territories, currently in the Atlantic Council.

The Gaza conflict may make winning support for Ukraine “a little bit more difficult,” he said, but by no means impossible.

Israel’s goal of uprooting Hamas is probably too ambitious, he said, but it could greatly weaken Hamas’s military capabilities. The United States will take a hit in global public opinion for its support of Israel in the short term, but that will likely fade over time, she predicted, and should not deter Washington from continuing to make its case on Ukraine.

“We must explain that what Moscow is doing in Ukraine is dangerous for all nations because if the kind of international order that the Kremlin and Beijing are pursuing becomes the international order, that means that all small and comparatively weak states will be at the mercy from its larger neighbors,” Herbst said.

Vivian Yee contributed reports. Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.

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