Fighting in Gaza City, European Commission updates, South China Sea tensions: Roundup on the Four Pillars

Nov 13, 2023News

Minh Nguyen is the Editor of the Boston Global Forum and a Shinzo Abe Initiative Fellow. She writes the Four Pillars column in the BGF Weekly newsletter.


In the Israel-Hamas War, the IDF has encircled Gaza City and is seeking to breach al-Shifa Hospital, where Hamas’ military headquarters was assessed to be. The US has urged Israel to open a humanitarian corridor from Gaza to the south of the strip, leading to a daily 4-hour pause to allow civilians to evacuate. In the broader Middle East, the US has begun retaliating attacks from Iranian proxies with airstrikes.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, a World Leader for Peace and Security Award recipient, outlined five principles for Gaza after the war: “No safe haven for terrorists, No Hamas-led government, No long-term Israeli security presence, No forced displacement of Palestinians, No sustained blockade.”

The EC in the past week also produced a report on EU enlargement. They recommended starting accession negotiations with Ukraine, Moldova, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and candidate status for Georgia. This is additionally symbolic for Ukraine, whose Euromaidan Revolution (and its subsequent events) was started with then-President Yanukovych reneging on a trade deal with the EU ten years ago.

In the process of revamping and reevaluating its military bureaucracy, Germany has asserted that it needs to step up and become the “backbone of deterrence and collective defense in Europe,” in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and recent global upheavals. The report reflects Zeitenwende, the German policy shift in 2022.

In Asia-Pacific, tensions in the South China Sea continue to simmer between China and the Philippines. Chinese Coast Guard vessels harassed a Filipino resupplying mission near Ayungin Shoal. In response, the EU, Germany, and Five Eyes have voiced support for the Philippines and international maritime law.

John Thys/AFP/Getty Images | European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks at the EU headquarters in Brussels, on November 8, 2023.