The Israel-Palestine conflict as a Litmus test for the liberal World order

The evolving landscape of international relations transcends the conventional North-South divide, entrenched in historical colonial legacies, to reveal a complex interplay of state interests challenging liberal and illiberal categorisation. Within Western democracies, the erosion of liberal values has exposed inherent contradictions between professed values and actual practices, destabilising the global order. Emerging voices and alternative narratives challenge traditional monopolies on discourse, while inconsistencies between rhetoric and actions, notably in the case of Israel and Palestine, underscore the credibility crisis undermining the foundations of the liberal world order.

The myth of liberal order led by the West is being dismantled by shifting power dynamics, increased migration and societal transformation. The shift redefines the relations between the Global North and South and challenges the prevailing narrative about the world order.  The credibility crisis is evident in the Western world’s struggle to uphold its ideals in geopolitics, especially regarding human rights and international law. Contrary to the claim, the liberal order has historically been limited in scope, primarily reflecting the interests of a select few Western nations. The limited perspective has often overlooked the concerns and experiences of many in the developing world, highlighting a fundamental flaw in its purported universality.

The crisis centres on challenging the control over discourse as emerging voices question the legitimacy of prevailing ideologies. The recent conflict in Gaza highlights the Western world’s selective approach to human rights violations, casting doubts on the sincerity of Western values.  The widespread dissemination of live streams of violence through social media prompts a reassessment of long-held beliefs. Israel’s continued aggression in Gaza, despite the call for a ceasefire, exacerbates the humanitarian crisis, while the Western government’s support risks undermining the credibility of the liberal world order. Despite widespread evidence of Israel’s War crimes, the delayed and limited response from the West, particularly the US, is deemed insufficient and fails to restore credibility, which has been irreparably damaged.

The recent conflict in Gaza highlights the Western world’s selective approach to human rights violations, casting doubts on the sincerity of Western values.

The Western inconsistency is apparent in their different response, condemning aggression while handling Israeli action with leniency. Ukrainians resisting occupation are praised, but Palestinians challenging apartheid are vilified.

The crisis in Gaza has reached staggering proportions, with at least 32,414 Palestinians killed and 74,787 wounded in Israeli attacks since 7 October 2023. However, the mainstream media’s coverage in Western countries, particularly in the United States(US), reflects a glaring gap in truth-telling and contextual understanding of what is happening in Gaza. Palestinian trauma spanning 75 years is notably absent from the coverage. By omitting the Palestinian voices and perpetuating a narrative that supports the occupier, the media not only fails in its duty to inform but actively contributes to the dehumanisation of those affected. The selective framing of events, coupled with unquestioning support for military intervention, undermines the very principle of democracy and human rights that the Western world claims to uphold. The media’s systemic bias in favour of Israel within mainstream news agencies is severely damaging their credibility, particularly among Arabs and others.

Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council(UNSC) draft resolution on Gaza put forward by the US. The Russian envoy to the UN stated that the US draft resolution amounted to an ‘effective green light for Israel to mount a military operation in Rafah.’ Global leaders have endorsed a UN resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire, with UN Secretary-General Guterres stressing the urgency for its implementation.

In the international arena, a significant shift in sentiment is evident with a recent UNSC resolution 2728(2024) urging an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The US abstained from vetoing the resolution for the first time, signalling a slight departure from its previous unwavering support for Israel. While the resolution marks progress, it alone is insufficient to address the deepening humanitarian crisis. Tension between the US and Israel has risen following the resolution, as reported by Western news outlets. Israel cancelled a high-level delegation’s visit to Washington, including Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, and Ron Dermer, a member of the war cabinet and close adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House expressed disappointment about this decision.

This resolution, urging an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, stands as a symbolic victory for Palestinians. However, it also reveals the complicity of the US administration in the ongoing crisis. Despite abstaining from the vote, there is little indication of a substantive shift in the US policy towards Israel.  Biden faces serious political trouble due to the live stream of the genocide of Palestinian people, which did not play well for him both domestically and internationally. By abstaining and not blocking the ceasefire, the Biden administration attempts to distance itself from impending consequences that may worsen. The US is concerned about being labelled as a pariah alongside Israel and facing domestic backlash.  As long as tangible measures follow this resolution and Israel faces the repercussions, Israel will likely continue its policies, as it has done for decades. Now, it is up to the international community to move from condemnation to actual practical measures. It did this for a decade, and now it’s on the international community that would move from condemnation to actual practical measures.

The interconnectedness fostered by social media has enabled global discourse and solidarity movements to challenge conventional identities and narratives. However, the ongoing crisis in Gaza highlights the fault lines in the liberal world order, emphasising the need to address the humanitarian crisis. While the recent UNSC resolution signals progress, substantive actions are needed to address the humanitarian crisis. It is urgent to redefine global engagement based on the principles of accountability and justice.

Bashira Omeed

Bashira Omeed serves as an Assistant Editor and Researcher at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research. She has an MPhil in International Relations from NDU, Islamabad. Her research focuses on diplomatic relations, defence and security, and international affairs.

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