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The Global Consequences of the Israel-Hamas War

The impact of the Israel-Hamas war will reverberate around the world, with consequences for the Middle East, Europe, China, and the United States. While the specific challenges vary, none has an interest in drawing out or widening the conflict.

WASHINGTON, DC – War has returned to the Middle East. Nearly a month after Hamas militants carried out their brutal rampage, Israel’s military retaliation continues with an intensifying ground offensive in Hamas-controlled Gaza. For people living, or with family, in Israel – including me – this is a deeply personal crisis. At the same time, many people around the world identify with the thousands of Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes. But, personal connections aside, this is also a geopolitical crisis, possibly even more profound and far-reaching in its global impact than the Ukraine war.

The most immediate consequences will be felt in the Middle East. For years, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu operated under illusions that have now been shattered. The biggest was the expectation that Israel could normalize ties with the Arab world without addressing the Palestinian question, which he apparently believed could simply be wished away.

Now, that question has become impossible to ignore. Regardless of the outcome of its offensive in Gaza, Israel will have to do some serious soul-searching, possibly rethinking its strategy toward the moribund Middle East peace process entirely. Saudi Arabia, which was on the verge of normalizing relations with Israel, will now probably demand some concessions for the Palestinians before moving forward, lest it incur the ire of its population and the wider Muslim world.