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G-7 Foreign Ministers call for ‘pauses’ in Israel-Hamas war

Palestinian children queue to receive a portion of food at a make-shift charity kitchen in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 8, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas.    (Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images North America/TNS)
Isabel Reynolds and Courtney McBride, Bloomberg News

Group of Seven Foreign Ministers agreed on the need for humanitarian “pauses” in Israel’s war with Hamas, according to a joint statement issued after the group met in Tokyo.

“We support humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement, and the release of hostages,” the ministers said. “All parties must allow unimpeded humanitarian support for civilians.”

The conflict in Gaza topped the agenda at the meeting, which came after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s whirlwind tour of the Middle East. His calls for halts in the fighting to allow delivery of basic necessities were met with more air and ground attacks from Israel and frustration from Jordan, which called for a full cease-fire.

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa hailed the joint statement, in which the ministers condemned the “terror attacks by Hamas” and rejected both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“This is the first time the G-7 has issued a unified message in writing on the situation,” she told reporters after hosting the meeting. “It’s an important achievement.”

The group also pledged the commitment to Ukraine’s fight for its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity would never waver. Kamikawa underscored that the pledge applied even amid the difficult situation unfolding in the Middle East. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took part in one of the group’s sessions remotely.

Resource-poor Japan has traditionally maintained close ties with oil-producing countries in the Middle East, although it has also sought to develop relations with Israel in recent years. The government was relatively slow to use the term “terrorism” to describe the Oct. 7 attacks Hamas attacks on Israel. The U.S. and EU designate Hamas as terrorists.

Kamikawa made her own visit to the Middle East over the weekend. During the trip she met with Israeli and Palestinian officials and also visited Jordan.