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Calls for Gaza ceasefire grow globally amid shift in US stance

March 6, 2024 at 6:00 pm

Protestors led by the families of hostages during a demonstration calling on US President Joe Biden and the U.S. administration to secure a hostage deal ahead of Ramadan outside the U.S. Embassy Branch in Tel Aviv, Israel on March 5, 2024[Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images]

Appeals for an immediate ceasefire in the illegally blocked Gaza Strip are growing on a global scale while Israel’s aggression against the enclave continues.

Amid the growing calls, both US President Joe Biden and Vice President, Kamala Harris, made on Sunday unprecedented remarks in which they urged an immediate ceasefire.

“There’s got to be a ceasefire because of Ramadan – if we get into circumstances where this continues to Ramadan, Israel and Jerusalem could be very, very dangerous,” Biden told reporters.

In a rare display of American criticism of Israel, Biden also said that there could be “no excuses” for Israel to block humanitarian aid to Gaza, considering the ongoing suffering of civilians.

“Given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks, which is what is currently on the table. “This will get the hostages out and get a significant amount of aid in,” Harris said.

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“The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid. No excuses,” she said.

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” Harris also said.

Calls for a ceasefire have been growing steadily since 7 October, 2023 when Hamas carried out a surprise attack against Israel.

On Wednesday, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, also said that there is an “opportunity” for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Remarks from Biden, Harris and Blinken indicate a major shift in the US approach to a possible ceasefire in the war-ravaged Strip, as they seem to be reversing the US’s long-standing stance that saw a truce as a threat to Israel’s security.

“Any ceasefire will give the ability to rest, to refit and to get ready to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel,” State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said back in late October.

The US has also blocked UN Security Council resolutions calling for a truce, for the same reason.

The Biden administration is also reported concerned with regard to Muslim voter preferences in the upcoming elections.

American Muslims have grown increasingly wary of Biden since the conflict flared up in October, as the “#AbandonBiden” campaign, which started when Muslims in Minnesota demanded that Biden call for a ceasefire by 31 October, continues on X. Many months have passed since the kicked off campaign, resulting in Biden approval rating among Muslims hitting historic lows.

Another anti-Biden hashtag, “#GenocideJoe” also became trending on X and gained more traction after South Africa accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza on 29 December, 2023, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Calls for ceasefire from West

In its 2023 report, the European Parliament made its first-ever call for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza as Israel continued its attacks on the enclave.

The report’s Article 62 was amended to include the call for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza”.

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In a joint statement, UK and German top diplomats, David Cameron and Annalena Baerbock, have also called for a ceasefire.

“We must do all we can to pave the way to a sustainable ceasefire, leading to a sustainable peace. The sooner it comes, the better — the need is urgent,” they said in late December, also indicating a shift from their previously anti-truce stances.

The then-outgoing French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, also emphasised the importance of a ceasefire.

“What we think and what we say is that an immediate truce is needed, to move towards a ceasefire,” Colonna said.

On Monday, EU Foreign Policy chief, Josep Borrell, wrote on X that he is on the same page with Harris on the necessity of a ceasefire.

“I join US VP Kamala Harris’s call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.There should then be no obstacle for a UN Security Council resolution to that effect,” he said.

“Time for the UN Security Council to act.”

Spain has also repeatedly called for a ceasefire, and Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Albares, reminds on Friday in a post on X that Israel attacked Palestinian civilians waiting in line for humanitarian aid.

“The unacceptability of what happened in Gaza, with dozens of Palestinian civilians killed while waiting for food, underlines the urgency of the ceasefire,” Albares said, referring to Israeli shelling in southern Gaza that killed 112 people and injured 760 more.

“Humanitarian aid must be able to enter without hindrance. Compliance with international humanitarian law is mandatory,” Albares said.

Belgium also called for a ceasefire, with the country’s Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib, saying on X: “The tragedy in northern Gaza reinforces Belgium’s call for an immediate ceasefire!”

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“Respect for international law is an absolute priority. Civilians must be protected,” she added.

Eastern bloc, Non-Aligned countries also call for ceasefire

Since the conflict reignited, Eastern countries such as China and Russia, in addition to Non-Aligned countries like Brazil, have been calling for a ceasefire.

“An immediate ceasefire in Gaza is a prerequisite to save innocent civilians and provide humanitarian assistance and a key to avoiding further escalation and proliferation of the conflict,” Geng Shuang, China’s deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, said in a statement on Wednesday.

On Monday, Mikhail Bogdanov, Moscow’s Special Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, held talks with Brazilian Ambassador to Russia, Rodrigo de Lima Baena Soares, and both officials called for a ceasefire.

“At the same time, the importance of further vigorous efforts aimed at achieving an early ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and providing necessary humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian population was noted,” a statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry after the meeting said.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive, now on its 152nd day, on the Gaza Strip since a 7 October Hamas attack, which Tel Aviv said killed nearly 1,200 people.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

More than 30,700 Palestinians have since been killed and over 72,000 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85 per cent of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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