Home » Diplomatic Cuts and Legal Action: How has the World Reacted to Israel’s Gaza Offensive?
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Diplomatic Cuts and Legal Action: How has the World Reacted to Israel’s Gaza Offensive?

In just over 45 days, Israel’s deadly campaign against the Gaza Strip has killed more than 13,300 Palestinians, including over 9,100 children and women.

The assault on the blockaded Palestinian enclave has been the one and only focus for the entire world, with the only difference among countries being the stance they have taken on the issue.

Israel has had its fair share of supporters, and powerful ones at that – the US, UK, EU and other nations traditionally allied with this Western bloc.

On the flip side, the assault on Gaza has drawn vehement backlash, while also bringing into the spotlight Israel’s decades of occupation of Palestinian territories and oppressive policies that rights groups have described as apartheid and crimes against humanity.

In countries across the globe, there have been massive pro-Palestine protests and demonstrations calling for an immediate end to Israel’s devastating attacks.

Apart from public sentiment, official stances in many nations have also been against Israel, ranging from diplomatic cutoffs to initiation of legal action for accountability.

Diplomatic repercussions

The diplomatic fallout for Israel started off in Latin America, where Bolivia and now Belize have broken off ties over the assault on Gaza, a place where a group of UN experts recently warned that Palestinians are “at a grave risk of genocide” as the Israeli government has imposed a total blockade, cutting off water, food and electricity supplies.

Other countries on the continent – Colombia, Chile and Honduras – have recalled their ambassadors from Israel.

Israel has also faced similar backlash in its own geographical neighborhood, where Türkiye, Bahrain and Jordan have withdrawn their diplomats over the past month.

Bahrain has also expelled the Israeli ambassador and suspended economic relations with Tel Aviv.

All of the countries have cited the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza as the main reason, condemning Israel’s onslaught and its complete disregard for civilian lives.

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement specifically said the decision to recall the ambassador was taken “in view of the unfolding humanitarian tragedy in Gaza caused by the continuing attacks by Israel against civilians, and Israel’s refusal of calls for cease-fire and continuous and unhindered flow of humanitarian aid.”

In Africa, two countries have taken similar measures and recalled their ambassadors – Chad and South Africa.

All of this exacerbates the diplomatic isolation of Israel, which is a member of the UN but does not have bilateral relations with all of its 193 members.

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Comoros, Cuba, Djibouti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Quite a number of UN-recognized independent nations also straight-out refuse to recognize Israel’s sovereignty – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, Algeria, Libya, Somalia, North Korea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Push for legal action

Apart from the diplomatic pushback, countries have now also taken the legal route to hold Israel accountable for its actions against Palestinians.

The push is being led by South Africa, which has referred Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the tribunal based in The Hague.

The court, in its own words, has the mandate to investigate and prosecute “the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.”

The referral has been submitted jointly by five countries – South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros and Djibouti, according to Karim Khan, the ICC’s current prosecutor.

The drive for legal action has also garnered support from other countries like Türkiye and Malaysia.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has said the country will fully support all legal efforts against Israel and stands ready to assist with representatives and legal advisory.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has pointed out that there is “ample evidence” for Israel to be tried at the ICC, vowing that Ankara will do everything in its power to ensure that Israel’s “crimes are punished impartially.”

Other steps in the offing

South Africa, which has emerged as one of the strongest global supporters for Palestine, could also completely cut off ties with Israel.

A proposal on this is expected to be put for voting in Parliament this week, with some lawmakers calling for total severance of diplomatic relations with the “brutal apartheid Israeli regime,” while others are advocating for a more mediatory approach.

While Israel has also recalled its ambassador from Pretoria, lawmakers in the South African Parliament will be voting to shut down the Israeli Embassy.

Over in Europe, Norway, Belgium and Spain are weighing up the recognition of the state of Palestine.

A bill passed with overwhelming majority in the Norwegian parliament “asks the government to be ready to recognize Palestine as an independent state when recognition could have a positive impact on the peace process, without making a final peace accord a condition.”

In Spain, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said his new government will work nationally and within Europe to “recognize the state of Palestine,” while he will also be travelling to Israel and Palestine this week.

For Belgium, Caroline Janez, the minister of development cooperation and major cities, told Al Jazeera in a recent interview that her country has to “recognize the existence of the state of Palestine,” stressing that this remains the “only tenable solution in the long-term for peace and security.”

Measures that faltered

Ireland, another country historically sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, has again become an outlier in Europe with its staunchly critical stance on Israeli government policies.

The main opposition party Sinn Fein called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, while the Irish government has taken a more balanced diplomatic approach.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the country does not intend to expel the Israeli ambassador because it wants to take a “common-sense approach,” pointing to the presence of nearly 40 Irish citizens in Gaza.

“We want them to be able to leave, if they want to leave,” he said.

Subsequently, a motion calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador was defeated in parliament last week, along with another proposal urging the Irish government to refer Israel to the ICC.

Source : aa