Impacts of Israel-Hamas Conflict on Global North-South Polarisation

Earlier, the Russo-Ukraine war and now the Hamas-Israel conflict have altered the dynamics of international politics. The future of running global supplies of essential commodities such as food, grain, and fuel faces a risk of disruption, causing an alarming situation for the world, particularly in the developing world.

For long, the countries of the Global South have seemingly been distancing themselves from the developed partners. This situation has emerged over the years for various reasons, including the worldwide disruption and unilateral decision-making by Western countries. The developing countries remained unlikely to be considered in global policymaking, keeping their concerns neglected. However, this generated a new “self-confidence” among the leaders of these countries, which was apparent when influential countries of the Global South, such as India and South Africa, abstained from the resolution against Russia.

The current show of violence from Israel against Palestinian civilians and children in Gaza has exacerbated the response from the countries below the Brandt Line (a geographical line that divides the Global South and North). They remain unsatisfied with the global leaders who have proved unfit to stop this massacre in Gaza, which has killed over 11,000 Palestinians. The streets of these countries are packed with crowds after people have come out in solidarity with Palestine. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has condemned the Israeli aggression in Gaza. Meanwhile, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has called it a genocide. Thus, the developments in Gaza are creating further polarisation in international relations. Ulrich Speck, a German analyst, has noted that “this is another moment of geopolitical clarification, like Ukraine, where countries have to position themselves.”

The current exercise of veto by the US to prevent any action against Israel sheds light on the vulnerabilities of the existing system of international governance.

Since October 7, the Western countries, including the US, have sided with Israel, calling Israel’s actions the latter’s “right to self-defence.” The US has also defied the humanitarian resolution proposed by Brazil in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) through veto. On the other hand, the Global South, demanding peace through an immediate ceasefire, is irked by the Western style of support to Israel. Russia has called the American move “hypocrisy and double standards.” Meanwhile, Brazil is dismayed, lamenting that “again silence and inaction prevailed” in the UNSC. The former French ambassador to Syria and a special advisor to the Paris-based Institute “Montaigne” Michel Duclos has noted that the Hamas-Israel conflict is “without any doubt increasing the divisions” between Global South and North.

The US and the West also seem unable to maintain a balance in their stance against oppression across the world. A year and a half ago, when Russia invaded Ukraine, the US tried to push each country across the world to condemn the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. On the other hand, in Gaza, the US continuously arms Israel, which has killed thousands of non-combat civilians. The Secretary-General of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, has also called the Western behaviour a “double standard” as they were giving a call for “defence of Ukraine” earlier. At the same time, they hinder any action against “multiple bombings” on civilians in Gaza today.

The West’s lauding for Israel, even though it has done ground levelling in Gaza, will most likely have consequences for the former’s cause to gather support against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In his opinion for the New York Times, Neil Mac Farquhar has noted that “the dynamics of the dual crises have gone beyond Washington’s desire to rally global support to isolate and punish Russia for invading its neighbor [sic].” Therefore, it will likely become impossible for the West to bring developing countries to the same table again in support of Ukraine.

Things will not stop here; it can amplify the trust deficit against the running global world order. There have been acute reservations against the role of the UNSC in crisis mitigation and conflict resolution as the decisive veto power halts the process significantly. In terms of Ukraine, Russia significantly halted the resolutions against condemning the violence. The current exercise of veto by the US to prevent any action against Israel sheds light on the vulnerabilities of the existing system of international governance.

In the Israel-Hamas conflict, it is a common perception in the countries of the Global South that the US has more leverage over Israel than anybody else in this world to stop the mass killing of civilians in Gaza. If the Biden administration remains unable to bring a ceasefire, it will diminish the role and influence of the US in the Middle East and beyond. The recently announced American-backed India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC) has been halted since the day the conflict began. In addition, recently, the OIC delegate under the leadership of Saudi Arabia also visited China, seeking its role in bringing a long-term ceasefire. Saudi Arabia was once nearly able to strike a deal with the US to normalise relations with Israel and is now seeking China’s role, a prominent adversary and competitor of Washington.

The Israel-Hamas conflict has generated a further rift between the Global North and South. The divide, which has been prominent since the Ukrainian crisis, has been further widened after the failure of the UNSC and world leaders to stop the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The US and the West need to re-calculate their human rights standards, restrain their interests and engage all the states together. As the world navigates these complexities, the need for a more balanced and inclusive approach to international relations becomes increasingly evident, emphasising the importance of addressing the concerns of all nations in order to foster a more stable and cooperative global community.

Usman Zulfiqar Ali

Usman Zulfiqar Ali is a Communications and Research Assistant at the Centre for Strategic and Contemporary Research (CSCR). His research focuses mainly on China’s geopolitical and international affairs. He tweets @UsmanZulfiqar and can be reached at

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