G7 foreign ministers on Wednesday called for humanitarian pauses in the Israel-Hamas war to allow for aid and the release of hostages and sought a return to a broader peace process.
Ending a two-day meeting in Tokyo as Israeli forces continued to pound the Gaza Strip, the Group of Seven wealthy nations said in a joint statement that Israel had the right to defend itself. But they also stressed the need to protect civilians and comply with international humanitarian law.
G7 members are committed to preparing long-term solutions for Gaza and returning to a broader peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “in accordance with internationally agreed parameters,” the statement said.
The ministers shared the view that “the 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 group Hamas sparked the war with an attack in southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,400 people and taking around 240 hostages.
Israeli bombardment of Gaza has since killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, about 40 percent of them children, according to counts by health officials in the Hamas-run territory.
Also read: Gaza’s main hospital becomes a full IDP camp
“I think it’s important that the G7 was able to send its first unified message as a statement about a humanitarian pause … in terms of the responsibility that the G7 has to the international community,” Japan’s foreign minister told reporters. Yoko Kamikawa.
Asked if all G7 members were calling for humanitarian ceasefires or if some were in favor of a full ceasefire, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the statement accurately reflected what was discussed and there was “real unity” among the bloc.
The communiqué also reiterated the G7’s support for Ukraine in its war with Russia, stressed the need for sincere engagement with China, and condemned North Korea’s missile tests and arms transfers to Russia.
The G7 consists of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, while the European Union is also participating in the talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would consider “small tactical pauses” but rejected calls for a ceasefire that he says will allow Hamas to regroup.
The G7 had appeared to struggle to agree on a consistent, unified approach to the war, raising questions about its importance as a force to deal with major crises.
Long term plan
On Tuesday, the ministers also discussed what happens after the end of the conflict in Gaza and how to revitalize peace efforts in the Middle East.
Israel has been vague about its long-term plans for Gaza. In some of the first direct comments on the issue, Netanyahu said this week that Israel would seek to have security responsibility for Gaza “indefinitely.”
But Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen told the Wall Street Journal that Israel wanted the region to be under an international coalition, including the US, the European Union and Muslim-majority countries, or to be run by Gazan political leaders.
Read: Palestinian president urges US for Gaza ceasefire as refugee camp hit
Blinken told reporters after the G7 meetings that Gaza cannot be under the control of Hamas or Israel.
“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 intention of reoccupying Gaza,” he said.
Blinken also said that sustainable peace must include a unified Gaza and West Bank run by the Palestinian Authority, and that there should be no forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and no reduction in the enclave’s territory.
“We think now is the time to start the conversation about the future,” he said.
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