The Trump administration’s response to the violence in Gaza this week once again places it at odds with Europe and key US allies.
The White House as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley have thus far placed sole responsibility for the violence on the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas and fervently defended Israel’s right to defend itself.
As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 60 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and thousands more injured in clashes along the Gaza-Israel border catalyzed by the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. Some of the demonstrators have attempted to cross the border and damage the fence that rests along it.
“Who among us would accept this type of activity on your border?” Haley said during a UN Security Council session on Tuesday. “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has.”
Meanwhile, France, the UK and Germany — all of whom characterized Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as a mistake — have been decidedly more critical in their responses.
French President Emmanuel Macron condemned the Israeli response to Palestinian demonstrators in a statement on Monday and reportedly addressed his concerns with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call on Tuesday.
“[Macron] expressed his very deep concern about the situation in Gaza, condemned the violence and underlined the importance of protecting civilian populations and of the right to protest peacefully,” the French president’s office said in a statement.
Similarly, British Prime Minister Theresa May said the use of live fire by Israeli forces was “deeply troubling.” May defended Israel’s right to defend itself, but also called for greater restraint to be exercised.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed May, stating she was sympathetic to Israel’s security needs but expressed concerns about the “escalation of violence” during a phone call with Netanyahu on Tuesday, according to her spokesman, Steffen Seibert.
Both May and Merkel’s governments have called for an independent inquiry into this week’s events in Gaza, but the US has worked to block such proposals in the UN Security Council.
Indeed, Trump’s major foreign policy decisions have routinely placed his administration at odds with leaders such as Macron, May and Merkel. From withdrawing from the Paris climate accord and more recently the Iran nuclear deal to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, the US and Europe no longer see eye-to-eye on key issues nearly as often as they did under previous administrations.