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US inching away from Israel on Gaza war

US inching away from Israel on Gaza war
US inching away from Israel on Gaza war | Ian Bremmer | Quick Take

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take to kick off your week. And the war in Gaza continues apace. We don't yet have an agreement between Israel and Hamas for a near-term cease fire and for more hostages to be released. Everyone is saying that it's imminent. The Israelis essentially have accepted the terms that have been put forward now by the United States, by Qatar, by Egypt.

Hamas has not yet. But it looks very close. Meanwhile, the United States continues to publicly inch further away from the war position of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. This is hurting the US on the global stage with its allies, with the Global South. It's hurting the United States and Biden in particular at home as well with his constituents in an election year.

The United States now at the Security Council, still vetoing permanent cease fire calls, but now pushing for a temporary cease fire. Vice President Kamala Harris for the first time over the weekend calling for an immediate, though temporary cease fire on the ground in Gaza. Biden saying that he opposes any ground war on the ground in Rafah until it is clear that there is a mechanism to ensure the safety of the over 1 million Palestinian civilians that are presently taking shelter there. And there's nothing close to that from Israel right now. And the United States has decided to start airdropping food to the Palestinians against the protestations of the Israel government, who says that they cannot control the safety of the humanitarian aid and cannot ensure that Hamas doesn't have a hold on them. So in an alliance that has had the two countries in lockstep in the days after October 7th, there is now significant gap between them.

The Israeli position is that Hamas, of course, is wholly responsible for the attacks on October 7th and that that justifies Israeli attacks against Gaza to completely destroy Hamas. Hamas operates in civilian areas. They are the ones putting the Palestinian civilian population at risk. And therefore, Hamas is singularly and solely responsible for all Palestinian deaths. Hamas steals resources that come into Gaza both before October 7th and after, massive amounts of aid pre October 7th had come in, but the Palestinian population there was not able to develop in part because of the kleptocracy represented by Hamas leadership. Therefore, they are responsible for the fact, Hamas, that food and medicine and power are not available for civilians. And finally, Hamas is holding hostages still months after October seven civilian hostages. And that humanitarian aid should not come in unless those hostages are released. It’s a point of leverage that the Israelis have over Hamas to get those hostages released.

And again, from Israel's perspective, it's not 50:50, it's not 80:20, it's not 90:10. All of these, the 30,000 plus deaths in Gaza, a majority of which are civilians, are Hamas's responsibility. The US position is not that. The US position is that Israel is far stronger militarily than Hamas's military capabilities. Israel is capable of defending itself, including from ongoing Hamas attacks and therefore should be able to allow aid in to Palestinians on the ground in Gaza without creating more vulnerabilities for Israeli civilians, that the Israelis have a responsibility for doing everything possible to limit Palestinian civilian deaths. And that while there's scope for disagreement and leeway between the US and the Israeli position, the Americans certainly believe that Israel has not done close to enough to ensure that fewer civilians are in harm's way, that fewer civilians are killed, and therefore that Israel is partially responsible for civilian deaths on the ground. Further, that the Palestinians must have a pathway to govern themselves and to have security, and that needs to be done through a two state solution, a two state solution that presently is rejected by the Israeli prime minister.

So US and Israel are, you know, US is closest ally, strongest ally of Israel globally. But those two positions on the war in Gaza, the war against Hamas, are significantly different and they're widening over time. Now, of course, I'm talking about the two countries that are closest here. I'm not talking about the rest of the world. When you talk about most of the countries in the world that are voting against Israel in the Security Council, in the General Assembly resolutions.

When you talk about the Global South, that position is very different. The majority of the world, of course, believes that Hamas is wholly responsible for the civilian terrorism that they engaged in October 7th. But they also believe that Israel is wholly responsible for the Palestinian death, civilian deaths since then. Again, not the US position, not the position of, say, the Germans and the French, but the position of most countries in the world, and indeed increasingly, the position of most countries in the world that Israel is committing a genocide on the ground in Gaza. And the opposition to Israel as a consequence of that is very great indeed. The gap between those two positions, you could drive hundreds of trucks through with humanitarian aid every day into Gaza. And that, of course, is a big part of the problem, that it is true that the idea of a two state solution is now more urgent and is now more on the table for most around the world than it was before October 7th.

It's also true that both the Israeli population and the Palestinian populations are much more radical lies today towards each other, against each other than they were before October 7th. The former is a win for the international community and perhaps for Palestinians on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza. The latter is a win for Hamas, is a win for Netanyahu, and is a loss for pretty much everywhere else.

And how do you decide what the balance is going to be going forward? It's going to take a very long time. Look, I mean, radicalized populations can change. I was talking to Yuval Harari just yesterday, wrote that book, Sapiens and Homo Deus, and he talked about the fact that, you know, we had a million people killed in the genocide in Rwanda, and this was only 30 years ago. This was, you know, 10,000 people massacred every day, ten times the number of Jews that were massacred on October 7th. And it didn't just happen on one day. It happened for 100 days, day after day after day, a million people slaughtered. And yet, 30 years later, these two populations are living in peace and stability. So it doesn't mean it can't happen between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but it does mean we are farther away today in many ways than we were before the atrocities of October 7th.

And that's something the entire world needs to pay a lot more attention to, needs to work a lot more on. That's it for me and I'll talk to you all real soon.


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