(L-R) High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Britain’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa, Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani pose for group photo session during their G7 foreign ministers’ meetings in Tokyo on November 8, 2023. (Photo by Eugene Hoshiko / POOL / AFP)
(AFP) – G7 foreign ministers said Wednesday that they supported “humanitarian pauses and corridors” in the Hamas-Israel war but refrained from calling for a ceasefire.
The group also said after talks in Japan that their support for Ukraine in its war with Russia “will never waver” while calling on China not to support Moscow in the conflict.
“We stress the need for urgent action to address the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza… We support humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement, and the release of hostages,” a joint statement said.
The ministers also “emphasize Israel‘s right to defend itself and its people in accordance with international law as it seeks to prevent a recurrence” of the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.
It added: “We call on Iran to refrain from providing support for Hamas and taking further actions that destabilize the Middle East, including support for Lebanese Hezbollah and other non-state actors, and to use its influence with those groups to de-escalate regional tensions.”
– ‘Overall security’ –
The Israeli military has relentlessly bombarded Gaza since October 7, when Hamas militants launched an attack that left 1,400 dead in Israel, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.
The Hamas-run health ministry says the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 10,300 people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday there would be no fuel delivered to Gaza and no ceasefire unless more than 240 hostages seized by Hamas were freed.
He also said Israel would assume “overall security” in Gaza after the war ended, while allowing for possible “tactical pauses” before then to free captives and deliver aid to the besieged territory.
Washington said Tuesday it opposed a new long-term occupation of Gaza by Israel, a stance reiterated by Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tokyo.
Key elements for lasting peace and security “should include no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war; no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks; no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends,” Blinken told reporters on Wednesday before departing for South Korea.
– Ukraine fatigue –
On the Ukraine war, the G7 statement said: “Our steadfast commitment to supporting Ukraine‘s fight for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity will never waver.”
“We further call on China not to assist Russia in its war against Ukraine, to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine,” it said.
The ministers from the G7 — the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Canada — also said that they “welcome China’s participation in the Ukraine-led peace process”.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba joined the G7 meeting by video conference.
With Ukraine‘s counteroffensive struggling to gain ground after almost two years of war, President Volodymyr Zelensky has regularly met Western leaders to try to stave off fatigue over the conflict.
“It is clear, particularly at this moment, that around the world some (parties) are watching very closely how we will continue to support Ukraine,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said earlier.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said it was “important to remember that the situation in the Middle East in no way distracts us from what is happening in Ukraine“.
© Agence France-Presse