Former US leader Barack Obama calls for balance and compassion in dealing with the Middle East conflict
Former US President Barack Obama has weighed in on Israel‘s war on Gaza, publishing a statement on Monday in which he supported Israel’s “right to defend itself” against the terrorist attacks launched by Hamas on October 7, while also warning Israel and the US against ignoring the plight of Palestinians.
In his statement, which he posted on Medium, Obama condemned the “unspeakable brutality” of Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis and took hundreds of hostages in its initial raid. He said that Israel had every right to respond to the attacks and protect its citizens and territory.
However, he also cautioned that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters. He said that Israel’s military strategy should abide by international law and avoid harming civilians as much as possible. He said that upholding international law was vital for building alliances and shaping international opinion.
He warned that some of Israel’s actions, such as cutting off food, water and electricity to Gaza, could worsen the humanitarian crisis, harden Palestinian attitudes, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies and undermine long-term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.
He urged Israel to work with the international community to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches Gaza and to facilitate the release of the hostages. He also called for a ceasefire and a political solution to end the conflict and address the underlying issues.
Sympathy for Both Sides
He expressed his sympathy for the innocent victims on both sides of the border and said that he was heartbroken by the images of death and destruction. He also recognized the historical and religious ties that both Israelis and Palestinians have to the land and said that both peoples deserve dignity, security and self-determination.
He appealed to the people of both countries to reject violence, hatred and extremism and to embrace dialogue, tolerance and coexistence. He said that he believed in the possibility of a peaceful future for both Israelis and Palestinians and that he would continue to work for it as a private citizen.
He also addressed the American people and urged them to stand with Israel as a friend and ally, but also to be mindful of the suffering of the Palestinians. He said that the US had a special responsibility to help end the conflict and promote a two-state solution that respects the rights and aspirations of both peoples.
He concluded his statement by thanking President Joe Biden for his leadership and diplomacy in trying to de-escalate the situation and bring about a lasting peace. He said that he was proud of Biden’s efforts and that he would support him in any way he could.