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Conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has divided international opinion for decades and those fault lines have been underscored since Hamas’s surprise attack on Saturday.
Many world leaders were quick to condemn the violence and offer support for Israel, but the response has not been universal. Some nations have stopped short of censuring Hamas; others have called for fresh efforts to find a lasting peace settlement; a few have laid blame at Israel’s door.
The United States was among the first nations to recognise the state of Israel in 1948 and is a very close ally. Following Hamas’ attack, US President Joe Biden reiterated American support for Israel in strident terms. “In this moment, we must be crystal clear: we stand with Israel,” he said.
Major European powers have also strongly backed Israel following the trauma of Saturday.
In an unusual move, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain joined the US in making a joint statement of “steadfast and united support to the state of Israel” which condemned Hamas’ “appalling acts of terrorism”.
“Our countries will support Israel in its efforts to defend itself and its people against such atrocities,” said Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Other Western nations, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand have condemned Hamas and made statements of solidarity with Israel.
The European Union released a statement supporting Israel and said it will review the assistance it provides in Palestinian territories, including aid to tens of thousands of refugees.
India, a nation wielding growing influence on the global stage, also offered support for Israel.
Soon after the attack, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on X: “deeply shocked by the news of terrorist attacks in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the innocent victims and their families. We stand in solidarity with Israel at this difficult hour.”
Modi’s forceful support for Israel surprised some analysts because India had been an active supporter of the Palestinian cause and did not have diplomatic relations with Israel until 1992.
Israel’s foreign ministry says 84 countries have released statements of support for Israel since Saturday’s attacks, according to Israeli media reports.
Israel has fought numerous wars with Arab neighbours since it declared statehood in 1948 and does not have formal diplomatic relations with more than two dozen nations, mostly in the Middle East and North Africa.
Rockets have been fired into Israel from neighbouring Lebanon and Syria since Saturday’s attacks. Hezbollah, an armed group operating in southern Lebanon, said it launched artillery attacks “in solidarity” with the Palestinian people. The Israeli military has retaliated.
Iran, which denies Israel’s right to exist, congratulated Hamas following Saturday’s brutal attacks.
“You really made the Islamic Ummah happy with this innovative and victorious operation,” Iran’s official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted President Ebrahim Raisi as saying. Ummah is an Arabic word meaning the entire Muslim community.
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi arrives to address the 78th session of the UN General Assembly last month.Credit: AP
Iran’s foreign ministry described the Hamas assault as an act of self-defence and called on Muslim countries to support the rights of Palestinians.
Iran is known to provide resources and training to Hamas.
Oil-rich Qatar, which has ties to Hamas and provides significant aid to the Gaza region, said Israel was “solely responsible for the ongoing escalation due to its continuous violations of the rights of the Palestinian people”.
Treading a fine line
Other nations in the Middle East have opted for a more muted response. Two of Israel’s immediate neighbours, Egypt and Jordan, have urged restraint, with Egypt warning Israel not to take disproportionate action against Palestinians in retaliation to Hamas’ attacks.
The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemned the targeting of unarmed civilians but did not assign sole blame. Turkey has offered to mediate between Israel and Hamas.
Russia, which is aligned with Iran, said it was “extremely concerned” – but stopped short of condemning Hamas.
China called for the protection of civilians and said the “way out of the conflict lies in implementing the two-state solution” and establishing an independent Palestinian state.
“The international community needs to act with greater urgency, step up input into the Palestine question, facilitate the early resumption of peace talks between Palestine and Israel, and find a way to bring about enduring peace,” said a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry.
Saudi Arabia, a key player in the Middle East which has been in talks with Israel about normalising relations, also walked a fine line. It called for an immediate end to the violence but did not explicitly denounce Hamas.
Australia’s neighbour Indonesia, which does not have formal diplomatic ties with Israel, said it was deeply concerned about the escalation of conflict and called for an “immediate end” to the violence.
“The root of the conflict, namely the occupation of the Palestinian territories by Israel, must be resolved, in accordance with the parameters agreed upon by the UN,” Indonesia’s foreign ministry said.
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