G7's top diplomats prepare statement on Gaza conflict
G7 foreign ministers are set to issue a joint statement on the Israel-Hamas war on Wednesday and are expected to call for temporary pauses in fighting to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
It would mark only the second joint statement from the group of wealthy nations on the crisis since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas sparked the conflict with an Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.
The communique, to be issued near the end of a two-day meeting in Tokyo, is also likely to reiterate that G7 support for Ukraine in its war with Russia remains undimmed despite the spiralling conflict in the Middle East.
“We hope to be able to present a united G7 position on the situation in the Middle East in the G7 Foreign Ministers' Statement, which we understand is currently being co-ordinated,” said Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno.
The issue of humanitarian pauses in the conflict was raised at a working dinner attended by ministers from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and the European Union on Tuesday, host Japan said in a statement.
Wednesday's communique is expected to include a call for such pauses, temporary breaks in fighting to allow aid into the besieged enclave, several Japanese media outlets reported.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel would consider “tactical little pauses” but, alongside its close ally the US and other Western countries, has rejected calls for a ceasefire it says would allow Hamas to regroup.
The G7 has appeared to struggle to agree on a firm, united approach to Israel's war in Gaza, raising questions over its relevance as a force to tackle major crises.
The only other G7 statement came after a meeting of its finance ministers on Oct. 12 and amounted to a few, brief sentences. Other group members have issued joint statements.
G7 divisions have also been evident at the United Nations, with France voting in favour of a resolution calling for a humanitarian truce in the conflict on Oct. 26, the US opposing it and the group's other members abstaining.
The ministers on Tuesday also discussed what happens after the Gaza conflict recedes and how to revitalise peace efforts in the Middle East, Japan said in its statement.
It gave no details of options being discussed if the Hamas militant group is ousted from Gaza as the result of the Israeli bombardment of the Palestinian enclave.
Israel has been vague about its long-term plans for Gaza. In some of the first direct comments on the subject, Netanyahu said this week that Israel would seek to have security responsibility for Gaza “for an indefinite period”.
But Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Israel wanted the territory to be under an international coalition, including the US, European Union and Muslim-majority countries, or administered by Gaza political leaders.
Diplomats in Washington, the United Nations, the Middle East and beyond have also started weighing the options.
Discussions include the deployment of a multinational force to post-conflict Gaza, an interim Palestinian-led administration that would exclude Hamas politicians, a stopgap security and governance role for neighbouring Arab states and temporary UN supervision of the territory, Reuters reported this month.
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