Is diplomatic pressure enough for the US and Israel to realise the atrocities they did in Gaza?

10 Nov 2023 09:45am
Internally displaced Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, looking for safety sleep in the stairwell as others are camped in the grounds of the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 9, 2023 - AFP
Internally displaced Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, looking for safety sleep in the stairwell as others are camped in the grounds of the al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 9, 2023 - AFP

As Israel’s relentless bombing campaign over Gaza extends into its second month with no end in sight, several countries have recalled their diplomats from Tel Aviv over accusations of heinous war crimes.

Turkey, Chad, Jordan, Bolivia, Chile, Bahrain, Honduras, Colombia, and South Africa have recalled their diplomats from Israel in protest of the high number of deaths and the amount of destruction resulting from the Israeli bombardment of the besieged Gaza Strip.

“A genocide under the watch of the international community cannot be tolerated,” Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister in the Presidency of South Africa, told international reporters on Monday.

The bombings have killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza, including over 4,000 children, according to the Gaza-based Ministry of Health.

However, this does not seems to have deterred Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who appears content in continuing killing innocents under the absurd notion that schools and hospitals have Hamas fighters bunkering underneath.

Israeli officials have claimed they were 'trying' to minimise civilian casualties but have time and time again emphasised their resolve to eradicate the Hamas group, which they claimed has placed key military sites close to hospitals and in densely populated areas.

The United States, a historically staunch ally of Israel, has rushed to the latter's support with USD$14 billion in 'emergency aid' on top of the annual USD$3.3 billion in assistance. It has also used its veto to protect Israel from critical resolutions in the United Nations Security Council.

The lingering question is whether diplomatic pressure is enough to force the US and allies of Israel to see the error of their ways and finally allow for a humanitarian ceasefire to see the brutality as seen by the rest of the world — a live genocide.

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According to National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) Centre for Defence and International Security Studies Director, Professor Dr. Adam Leong Kok Wey, diplomatic pressure will unlikely force the US and Western allies to reconsider their support for Israel.

This was unsurprising, as according to various reports, Netanyahu seemed hell-bent in continuing what the world now considered a massacre of epic proportions.

Netanyahu had also made a declaration this week that Israel would take control of security in Gaza for an indefinite period, adding more uncertainty over the future of the besieged enclave.

"The massive and appalling numbers of civilian deaths in Gaza have seen some of them push for a 'humanitarian ceasefire' in the ongoing war. Even US President Joe Biden conceded that perhaps 'humanitarian pauses' can be considered," Adam told Sinar Daily.

Last month, 120 U.N. member states voted for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but the US, Israel, and 12 other states voted against it.

Israeli officials maintained that a ceasefire will benefit Hamas, allowing them to supposedly "strike again."

Adam explained that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has been supposedly trying hard to advocate for a ceasefire; however, an attempt to agree on a resolution to call for such a thing failed early this week due to a heated quibble over the wording to be used for the resolution.

"UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has been upfront about the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law. However, the politics of the great powers in the UNSC continue to hinder cohesive progress on this issue," he said.

Adam said that the sheer scale of Israel’s military operation in Gaza and the simultaneously increased targeting of Palestinians do seem to have set back recent attempts to build relations between Israel and some Middle East countries.

"Nonetheless, it is still too early to see how the war will progress or escalate and the strategic impact for the region," he told Sinar Daily.

Meanwhile, Strategic and International Studies senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr. Roy Anthony Rogers of Universiti Malaya said wide-spread pro-Palestine protests and demonstrations around the world, including in the West, may eventually pressure western leaders to advocate more strongly and agree to a humanitarian ceasefire.

"There has been serious condemnation against Israel among ordinary citizens in Western countries. Therefore, these Western countries will somehow need to listen to their own people because their governments need the support of their people," he told Sinar Daily.

Asked if this will set back Israel’s efforts in recent years to establish relations with many nations that had in the past boycotted it for decades, Roy said that the tragedy that has occurred in recent weeks has made countries that were initially planning to normalise their relations with Israel to rethink their decision.

"I do feel that it is a setback for Israel in its efforts to re-engage with Middle Eastern countries," he said.

Public anger does seem to be escalating around the world over the soaring death toll — of mostly women and children — and a growing humanitarian crisis, which could likely lead to more countries considering diplomatic moves such as public condemnation, delaying normalisation talks with Israel, or even severe its diplomatic ties.

While the UNSC appeared paralysed to play an effective role in the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, hundreds of thousands of people have marched in cities around the world, calling for an immediate ceasefire.

War — as it is often said — is the failure of diplomacy; and international diplomacy seems to have had little impact on Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Which begs the question: what is it that would actually make this stop, as Palestinians continue to be killed every single day, despite clangorous appeals — led by UN — for a ceasefire.

In fact, does diplomacy really play a role at all?