Israel-Hamas, Ukraine, APAC: Roundup on the Four Pillars

Oct 23, 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.


It has been a long week, but President Biden visited Israel this week, affirming US support for Israel and humanitarian aid to Gaza. He also noted that Israel should not make the same mistakes the US did after 9/11. However, his visit to the Middle East was cut short due to Egypt and Jordan pulling out after a now-debunked report about an Israeli airstrike on a Gaza hospital. After returning to the US, Biden addressed the country during prime time to urge support and funding for Ukraine and Israel. He invoked the “arsenal of democracy”, saying that these conflicts represent an inflection point in history, rallying support for the countries in the fight for democracy and against terrorism and authoritarianism.

Other pillar leaders, such as PM Rishi Sunak, also visited Israel in the past week. He also visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt in a peacemaking effort as well.

More recently in the week, there have been efforts by the US and the EU, two of the four pillars, to moderate the Israeli response and secure humanitarian aid into Gaza. Two Israeli-American hostages, a mother and daughter, were released on grounds of health, and the first humanitarian convoys entered Gaza over the weekend.

As Israel continues its airstrikes campaign on Hamas in Gaza and border skirmishes with Hezbollah in Lebanon, it is unclear which direction the conflict will head. Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an IDF spokesperson, stated that Israel will halt the Gaza ground invasion if all hostages are released, but this is seen more as a bluff than a credible demand.

President Biden, PM Trudeau, President Macron, Chancellor Schulz, PM Sunak, and PM Meloni released a joint statement on October 22. In it, they affirmed support for Israel and humanitarian aid to Gaza, and stated they remain committed to being involved in the situation for peace.

It is now official that the US is supplying Ukraine with ATACMS for the first time, which are long-range missiles that allow Ukraine to target Russian systems that were previously unreachable. The first strikes saw helicopters and air defense systems hit. The US had previously denied requests for such weaponry, but has silently sent them to Ukraine, in order to get some element of surprise on Russia.

In the Asia-Pacific, the US, Japan, and South Korea held their first-ever joint aerial exercise. This is another step in closer relations between the three countries and two pillars, as they try to mitigate the rising Chinese threat in the region. Closer cooperation between Japan and South Korea is to be even more emphasized, given the historical grievances between the two.