Why global governments have not turned on Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, July 31, 2014
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli diplomats and government officials have expressed surprise that the global media coverage of the secenes of devastation in Gaza have not sparked a diplomatic backlash and pressure on Israel to immediately end its ground operation in Gaza.

"After the pictures from Shujaiyeh and Khan Younis and the reports of UNRWA schools attacked, you would have expected a lot more pressure on Israel," said one diplomat, who added that "of course, a lot of the details reported were untrue or inaccurate but that didn't change anything in the past".

So far the diplomatic pressure on Israel has amounted to a very mild expression of concern from the United Nations Security Council, a tense phone-call between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama - the details of which are hotly contested in the local media - and a decision by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to launch an investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes. Since the UNHRC is widely seen as a body inherently hostile to Israel, the Israeli government is not unduly concerned about these developments.

There are a number of reasons why Israel feels that it has leeway from the international community to expand operations in Gaza if it so chooses.

For a start, by turning down the original Egyptian ceasefire - accepted by Israel and endorsed by the Arab League - Hamas has isolated itself.

This has made it difficult for other international actors to pressure Israel to go beyond the Egyptian proposal.

Qatar and Turkey continue to back Hamas, but major strategic shifts in the region have combined to increase the terror group's isolation among Middle Eastern and European states. The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq, the jihadist threat to Europe and a new anti-jihadi coalition centered around Egypt and Saudi Arabia - in which Israel is a silent ally - make it much harder to pressure Israel to "go easy" on the Islamist terror outfit in the Gaza Strip.

Other major issues such as Ukraine and now the growing Ebola epidemic in Africa have also drawn attention away from the Gaza conflict.

Israeli diplomats and spokespeople have said that despite the criticism of Israel in the world media, "we are doing a better job now of putting our message across, and there is a growing openess to our narrative as well as that of the Palestinians".

In London alone, Ambassador Daniel Taub and other Israeli representatives have given 60 media interviews over the past two weeks and the embassy has said that the atmosphere is not as bad as during previous Israeli operations.

Last updated: 11:33am, July 31 2014