Europe Does a Balancing Act With Ukraine and Israel
Much of the West, including Europe find themselves torn between Ukraine and Israel as both countries are facing war. European leaders have followed in the US President Joe Biden’s footsteps in showing solidarity with Israel by visiting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But Ukraine feels left out as global media puts 24/7 spotlight on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has claimed over 8,000 lives majority being children and women. On October 26, the European heads of state and government meeting in Brussels tried to reassure Ukraine by reaffirming their support for Kyiv. The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Europe stands by Ukraine.
But the Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo broke the ice saying it’s clear that the conflict in the Middle East is casting a shadow over what’s going on in Ukraine. Political analysts believe the Ukraine and Israel wars are testing the limits of the EU’s foreign policy reach. Much of Europe wants to tow the US line, align their positions and brotherhood with Israel.
A Fragile Unity in Europe
Professor Diana Galeeva drew attention to an emerging stance in the EU, with Slovakia and Hungary threatening to break European unity on military aid for Ukraine. Robert Fico, Slovakia’s newly elected Prime Minister, said he will not back further military aid for Ukraine or sanctions against Russia.
And Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban said he was proud to have shaken hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 17. He made it clear that he does not support the EU’s proposal to release €50 billion to help the Ukrainian government between 2024 and 2027.
This division comes despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine being a historic turning point for Europe’s security and foreign policy. European countries united and stood together with Ukraine to face the Russian aggression.
Israel War on Hamas in a Multipolar World
Galeeva believes the Hamas-Israel war is shaping the debate on a multipolar global order. It shows the ongoing role of external powers in the Middle East and the global importance of the regional players. Western nations have been slammed for double standards, especially the West’s silence over the Israeli bombing of Gaza.
“These might suggest a cautious response by Arab leaders to the events in the region, but at the same time it echoes their independent voices, which are becoming louder daily and may eventually shape the composition of the multipolar world order, with important places for regional actors in the medium term.”
She said the Hamas-Israel war has not as yet caused a definite shift in the West’s priorities regarding its financial, diplomatic and military support for Ukraine.