MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 26 OCTOBER 2023
Macron warns against ‘massive’ Israeli ground attack in Gaza; Biden calls for two-state solution for lasting peace
French President Emmanuel Macron said a ‘massive’ Israeli ground invasion of Gaza would be a mistake as diplomatic efforts to avert a wider war intensify. US President Joe Biden said a two-state solution should be pursued after the Israel-Hamas conflict is over.
Israel is delaying a planned ground operation in Gaza as the US seeks to bolster air defences for its forces in the Middle East, which have been targeted in a series of missile and drone attacks, The Wall Street Journal reported. Israel’s military said it continued to target Hamas’ leadership in Gaza. Iran’s supreme leader accused the US of orchestrating Israeli attacks.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Israelis a ground invasion is coming, and said after the war there’ll be an investigation of the failure to prevent Hamas attacks on 7 October, listing himself among those who’ll have to “provide answers”. In Gaza, the UN said its shelters were overwhelmed by almost 600,000 Palestinians who have fled their homes.
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- Understanding the roots of the Israel-Hamas war: QuickTake
Biden calls for two-state solution after Israel-Hamas war
US President Joe Biden called for a two-state solution that would ensure a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as he sought to keep the crisis in the Middle East from escalating.
Biden defended Israel’s right to defend itself after the deadly attack by Hamas, but said the country also had a responsibility to plan for governance after pushing Hamas out of Gaza.
“There has to be a vision of what comes next,” he said. “And in our view, it has to be a two-state solution, and that means a concentrated effort for all the parties, Israelis, Palestinians, regional partners, global leaders to put us on a path toward peace.”
Netanyahu tells Israelis that Gaza ground assault is coming
Netanyahu told Israelis that the military was preparing a ground invasion of Gaza as the country fights for its very existence, and said he would not explain the reasons for its timing to avoid providing information to the enemy.
“We are preparing for ground entry. I will not detail when, how and how much, nor the set of considerations that we take into account,” Netanyahu said. “This is in order to protect the lives of our soldiers.”
He also said that after the war there would be a thorough investigation of Israel’s failure to prevent the 7 October Hamas attacks, and that he himself would be among those who would “have to provide answers”.
‘Massive’ Israeli ground operation would be mistake – Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron said a “massive” Israeli ground operation in Gaza would be a mistake since it would put civilian populations in danger and wouldn’t provide long-term security for Israel. The French leader, who spoke with reporters in Cairo after visiting Israel, said that such an operation wouldn’t abide by international humanitarian law.
Iran’s leader accuses US of ‘orchestrating crimes’ in Gaza
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said the US was “orchestrating the crimes being committed in Gaza”, in a post on social media site X, formerly known as Twitter. His comments came after the US warned it would hold Iran responsible for a spate of attacks on US forces in the region. Iran is a key backer of Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist group by the US and European Union.
Israel to delay invasion as US seeks to protect troops – report
The Pentagon has persuaded Israel to delay an invasion of Gaza until the US can deploy almost a dozen air defence systems to the Middle East to protect US troops in the area, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing US officials and unidentified people familiar with Israel’s war planning.
The missiles may be in place later this week, and would protect US forces in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the WSJ said. US troops in Syria and Iraq have been attacked multiple times in the past week by drones and rockets. The US has blamed Iran-backed militias.
Egypt, France agree on need to avert escalation
Egypt and France agree on the need to avoid an escalation that would encompass the region, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said, adding that Israel’s stated aim of eradicating Hamas and other armed groups would take years.
Speaking alongside Macron in Cairo, Sisi said that the absence of hope and repeated failed attempts at brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians had fuelled hatred. Both leaders stressed the need for a two-state solution and agreed that the possibility of displacing Palestinians from Gaza and relocating them elsewhere was a non-starter. Macron also said that France was dispatching a navy ship to “support” hospitals in Gaza.
UK, Germany won’t back Israel’s call for UN chief to quit
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesperson said the UK does not agree with comments by UN Secretary-General António Guterres about what he described as context for the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October. But he declined to back Israel’s call for Guterres to quit.
“We are clear that there is and can be no justification for Hamas’s barbaric terrorist attack which was driven by hatred and ideology,” Max Blain told reporters in London.
Earlier, Germany said calling for Guterres to resign wasn’t appropriate right now. The country is a traditional ally of Israel and Chancellor Olaf Scholz was one of the first Western leaders who visited the country after 7 October.
Libyan Parliament wants oil exports to Israel’s allies halted
Libya’s Parliament based in the country’s east will ask the government to halt oil exports to nations that back Israel if it doesn’t halt attacks on Gaza, according to a statement. Lawmakers also called for envoys of such nations to leave the North African nation immediately.
Libya is governed by two rival governments, in the west and the east, and the Parliament is allied with the administration in that region. While it has no real sway over the Tripoli-based government in the west, Parliament is backed by the country’s biggest military force which largely controls the oil fields.
Israeli strikes Syrian troops, Aleppo airport, says Syria
Israel carried out air strikes against Syrian military positions that killed eight army personnel and also targeted Aleppo International Airport’s runway and caused material damage, the state-run Sana news agency reported.
Syria said on Sunday its Damascus and Aleppo airports were out of service due to earlier attacks.
Turkey pauses planned energy cooperation with Israel
Turkey has paused plans on joint energy exploration with Israel in the Mediterranean Sea and gas exports to Europe, according to an official with direct knowledge of the matter. The development comes after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticised Israel on Wednesday.
Qatar says breakthroughs possible in hostage talks
Negotiations to release more Israeli hostages held by Hamas were still ongoing and could see more breakthroughs soon, Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman said in a televised press briefing.
“I think that if we compare where we started and where we are, there’s some progress and some breakthroughs,” he said. “At any moment of time, I think if we will be able to get along with the two parties, we will see some breakthroughs hopefully soon.” DM