Blinking at the G7 meeting dominated by Gaza in Japan

Blinking at the G7 meeting dominated by Gaza in Japan
As calls for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict intensify, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Japan on Tuesday for a conference of the G7 foreign ministers aimed at finding a consensus on Gaza.

After his most recent whirlwind tour of the Middle East, Blinken arrived in Tokyo for two days of talks. According to a senior State Department official, Blinken was expected to "brief his counterparts on his trip... and progress on delivering humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza and efforts to contain the conflict."

Since October 7, when Hamas militants launched an onslaught that left 1,400 people dead in Israel—the majority of them civilians—the Israeli military has been bombing Gaza nonstop.

The health ministry, which is under the control of Hamas, reported that over 10,000 people have died in Gaza, including over 4,000 children.

The United States, a vital ally of Israel, has opposed calls for a ceasefire, maintaining that Israel has the right to retaliate, even as Washington has advocated for breaks in the war.

Blinken stated that Washington was attempting "very aggressively" to increase help for stranded civilians on Monday while in Turkey.

Blinken continued, "I think we will see in the days ahead that the assistance can expand in significant ways," but he did not elaborate.

Potential "tactical pauses" were discussed on Monday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden, according to the White House. However, no agreements were declared, and none of them brought up the subject of a cease-fire.

Netanyahu declared on Monday that Israel will not stop the battle until it regained control of Gaza's "overall security."

Only France voted in favor of a resolution proposed by the UN General Assembly last month that called for an instant "humanitarian truce."

While Japan, Britain, Italy, Germany, and Canada all abstained, the United States voted against it.

"The need to respond to the needs of civilian populations in Gaza and to respect international humanitarian law" will be the topic of discussion, according to a statement released by France, announcing Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna's attendance in Tokyo.

The statement also stated that Colonna "will reiterate our condemnation of the terrorist actions of Hamas and the imperative of releasing the hostages."

The G7 will "discuss how we can achieve humanitarian pauses together to alleviate the suffering of the people in Gaza," according to her German counterpart Annalena Baerbock.

"With the horrifying attacks of October 7, it is evident to me that the Hamas terrorists have caused Israel and the civilian Palestinian people in Gaza unending misery. She continued, "We cannot allow Hamas to decide what happens to the people living in the Gaza Strip."

According to Valerie Niquet of the Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS), any united G7 appeal for a humanitarian truce would be made "in general terms and without binding language."

- Ukraine war: Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is scheduled to participate via video conference. The war in Ukraine will be another important topic of discussion.

As Ukraine's war effort against Russia shows symptoms of weariness, observers predicted the G7 would continue to strong language denouncing Moscow.

"Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the G7 has... been at the forefront of the West's economic statecraft toward Russia." I anticipate that the ministers will continue to express support for this, AFP was informed by Robert Ward of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

However, experts said that since early indications suggest Beijing's hostilities with the West may be abating, the G7 may soften its rhetoric over China.

These include the United States and China's forthcoming negotiations in advance of the COP28 climate conference and President Xi Jinping and Biden's planned meeting in San Francisco.

Strengthening connections with strategically situated and resource-rich Central Asia will be another G7 agenda item, and foreign ministers from the area will participate via video conference.

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