G7 nations announce a unified stance on Israel-Hamas war after intensive meetings in Tokyo

TOKYO, Nov 8 : G7 foreign ministers on Wednesday called for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war to allow in aid and help the release of hostages and sought a return to a “broader peace process,” as Israeli forces continue to strike the Gaza Strip.

Winding up a two-day meeting in Tokyo, the Group of Seven wealthy nations said in a joint statement that Israel had the right to defend itself, while underscoring the need to protect civilians and to comply with international humanitarian law.

“The G7 members are committed to … prepare sustainable long-term solutions for Gaza and a return to a broader peace process in line with the internationally agreed parameters,” the statement said. “.. We support humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement and the release of hostages.”

The ministers shared the view that “a two-state solution… remains the only path to a just, lasting, and secure peace.”

It was only the second joint statement from the G7 since gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas sparked the conflict with an Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel, killing 1,400 people and taking some 240 hostages.

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza has since killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, around 40 percent of them children, according to counts by health officials in the Hamas-ruled territory.

“I believe it’s important that the G7 was able to put out its first unified message as a statement regarding a humanitarian pause… in terms of the responsibility the G7 has toward the international community,” Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters.

Asked whether all G7 members were calling for humanitarian pauses or whether some favored a full ceasefire, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the statement “very accurately reflects” what was discussed and that there was “real unity” among the bloc.

The communique also reiterated G7 support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, highlighted the need for engagement with China and condemned North Korea’s missile tests and arms transfers to Russia.

The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, with the European Union also taking part in the summit.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel would consider “tactical little pauses” but, alongside its close ally the United States and other Western countries, has rejected calls for a ceasefire that it says would allow Hamas to regroup.

The G7 had appeared to struggle to agree on a firm, united approach to the war, 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.

LONG-TERM PLAN

At a working dinner on Tuesday, the ministers also discussed what happens after the Gaza conflict recedes and how to revitalize peace efforts in the Middle East, Japan said in a statement.

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.

Blinken told reporters following the G7 meetings that Gaza could not be under Hamas or Israeli control.

“Now, the reality is that there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict… We don’t see a reoccupation and what I’ve heard from Israeli leaders is that they have no intent to reoccupy Gaza,” he said.

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 neighboring Arab states and temporary UN supervision of the territory, Reuters reported this month.

After Tokyo, Blinken heads for his first visit to South Korea in more than two years, with talks set to focus on strengthening the Washington-Seoul alliance amid growing concern over North Korea’s military ties with Russia.

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