Global players on Mid-East: too passive, too aggressive?

While the UN Security Council was still unable to agree on a joint statement in its fourth emergency session on the conflict over Gaza, individual international players have taken action. The US has called on Israel to de-escalate, China has invited both parties to negotiations, and Turkey's President Erdoğan has raked Israel and the West over the coals. Europe's press comments.

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Visão (PT) /

Silence and powerlessness

Visão criticises the way international politics handles conflicts:

“The last few days in Israel and Palestine have eloquently exposed the great distance between words and deeds. Despite several meetings, the UN Security Council has failed to issue a simple statement condemning aggression and acts of war. ... And all because the US has blocked all efforts in this direction, despite Joe Biden's promise to put multilateralism and human rights at the heart of its foreign policy. ... This eternal zig-zagging in international politics permits the perpetuation of the atrocities, as well as the impunity sustained by the 'silence' of the most powerful. ... This should be an embarrassment to us all - whether the topic is Gaza or Myanmar. It is also creating a sense of powerlessness among those who won't give up fighting for human rights, without vested interests.”

Radio Kommersant FM (RU) /

No more unconditional support from the US

The Biden administration's stance marks a significant shift in the US's Middle East policy, says Radio Kommersant FM:

“The kind of unconditional support the previous US administration offered certainly won't be forthcoming. This is also driven by the fact that Netanyahu already managed to ruin his relationship with the Democratic Party leadership in 2015. Back then, he went over the head of Obama and Vice President Biden to win the right to appear in Congress, where he drummed up opposition to the signing of the Iran nuclear deal - which the Biden administration is now working to revive.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Arab states are afraid of Iran

The Palestinians cannot expect any help from their neighbours, Phileleftheros believes:

“The Arab states have no intention of seeking a confrontation with Israel for the sake of the Palestinians, which is why they have only made lukewarm statements of support. They confine themselves to demands for an end to the violence, without saying a word about retaliation or taking a firm stance. ... Tehran's growing influence has created a new situation. All the countries in the region have taken a stand. And since Israel is also against Iran, it will be difficult for them to take a stand against Israel, even if it means turning a blind eye to what is happening in the Palestinian territories.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

China starting to get involved

Beijing is evolving from spectator to player in the Middle East conflict, Ilta-Sanomat observes:

“China has invited Israelis and Palestinians to Beijing for negotiations. ... Even if no one reacts to the invitation, it shows that China is becoming active in the Middle East. China has established trade relations with Israel's arch-enemy Iran. In Arab countries, China's money is welcome. So far, China has been more of a spectator in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Despite this, Israel must listen to China as an important investor and destination for Israel's exports. It suits Israel's interests not to depend entirely on the US economically. And it suits China if Israel becomes more dependent on it.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

No longer an ally

Political scientist Angelo Panebianco warns in Corriere della Sera against Erdoğan's aggressive rhetoric:

“Anyone who believes that Turkey's actions affect only the Middle East and not Europe is very much mistaken. What happens there has consequences here. ... If the Mediterranean is permanently divided between the Turks and the Russians, non-European (and indeed anti-European) hands will have control over vital energy sources as well as the regulation of migration flows. ... Erdoğan's ambitions also go beyond the borders of the Middle East. This is evident in the dispute with Greece over control of the gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean and the massive intervention in the Balkans, where Turkey is combining economic investments with religious indoctrination.”

Der Standard (AT) /

The EU now has the chance for a fresh start

The EU must launch a diplomatic offensive, demands Der Standard:

“A concerted peace initiative at the European level was difficult to achieve alongside Trump's Middle East policy. Now, however, it's time to join forces with the US again and jointly put pressure on both sides in the conflict. This is also something the 'most geopolitical of all EU commissions' [von der Leyen's announcement on taking office], which has been very quiet so far, owes to itself. In any case, the chances for a fresh start to diplomatic efforts are not bad with a new US president and a potential change of government in Israel.”

Akşam (TR) /

Erdoğan showing us the way forward

The pro-government Turkish newspaper Akşam says another actor could step in and resolve the situation:

“The talks that President Erdoğan has held with 19 heads of state in recent days could become the catalyst for a movement of global balance against Israel. It would be the most promising development to alleviate the plight of the Palestinian Muslims if everyone acts as one now and supports these initiatives. This would make it possible to ensure peace even without the UN Security Council.”

Der Tagesspiegel (DE) /

Always the same routine

The conflict can hardly be stopped from the outside because it follows its own logic, Der Tagesspiegel fears:

“Hamas and Israel's PM are following a script familiar from previous escalations, such as that in 2014. Hamas uses the interwar period to replenish its stocks of rockets and other weapons. ... Once Hamas has fired most of its rockets it declares its willingness to enter a ceasefire. But Israel doesn't accept, because the military goal of its forces is to decimate Hamas' infrastructure. ... Israel will only agree to a ceasefire once it has largely achieved these goals.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Ceasefire will come, peace won't

Naftemporiki also has little hope that the international efforts to find a solution will be successful:

“The UN Security Council has called another emergency session, while the US continues to block a joint resolution calling for an end to the violence. ... At present, there is no plan. Few believe in a solution, many are trying to prove that the conflict is unsolvable. As in 2008, 2012 and 2014, the bloodshed and destruction will continue until a ceasefire is called. The ceasefire will come, but it will restore the status quo ante. The ceasefire will come, but peace won't - not yet.”

Corriere del Ticino (CH) /

Leadership crisis on both sides

Corriere del Ticino holds out little hope for a diplomatic solution:

“Characteristic of the current disputes is that only Hamas, which is widely regarded internationally as a terrorist group, represents the Palestinians. The direct consequence of this is that neither side has international dialogue partners. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is absolutely convinced of his own infallibility but is struggling with political and legal problems on the domestic front, nor the Palestinian side, which is in a real leadership crisis, with Palestinian President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas], who is no longer listened to (even though Biden has spoken to him) and who therefore lacks the ability to mediate with Hamas.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Violence fuelled by cynical opportunism

Players on both sides believe they can profit from escalation, writes journalist and Arab studies expert Chams Eddine Zaougui in De Standaard:

“Israel is using the violence to justify a kind of modern Sparta: a militarised society. ... For militant Palestinian groups, resistance to Israel is their raison d'être and a way to distinguish themselves from their secular rival, the Palestinian Authority, which they see as weak and subservient. ... This political opportunism - which is a greater driving force than ice-cold hatred in this apparently eternal conflict - has its consequences. The people are paying a terrible price for the cynical calculations and obstinacy of their leaders.”

Club Z (BG) /

Hamas boosting Netanyahu's position

The rocket attacks come at just the right time for Israel's prime minister, says Club Z:

“With its foolish behaviour, Hamas is giving Netanyahu a golden opportunity to emerge unscathed from the political crisis he is facing over corruption allegations and the inability to form a government after four consecutive parliamentary elections. He's being given another chance to position himself as a strong leader who defends the security of the Israeli people and the Jewish state from the Iranian-backed terror of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”

The Irish Times (IE) /

Israeli government benefits from global disunity

Although the UN Security Council was unanimous in its condemnation of the violence there was no joint resolution against it. The Palestinians are hardest hit by the UN and the EU being at odds, The Irish Times complains:

“In the current crisis, and more generally, the failure of international organisations to speak with one voice works to the advantage of the Israeli government, which avoids global censure and has more room for manoeuvre as a result. And it means much of the world is powerless to influence a crisis like this one. ... The Biden administration has not even feigned interest in building a peace process. ... Not in a generation has Israel been under less pressure to compromise.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

Moving away from the idea of the Jewish state

A joint federation is the only remaining solution to undo the Gordian knot of this conflict, says Jutarnji list:

“Israel has destroyed the prospect of two parallel states. No independent state can be built on what it is willing to leave to the Palestinians. Nor do Jordan or Egypt have any intention of sharing Palestine with Israel and taking care of the frustrated Palestinians any more. They did that once and burnt their fingers. The only alternative is a common state, structured on a federal basis, or however else may be necessary. But it would have to give everyone a vote, and that would mean Israel itself sawing off the ethno-religious branch it has been sitting on.”