China and Russia may offer no substitute for America’s diplomacy, but they will be more than happy to see American discomfiture and will play up the claims of American double standards. Ahead of his visit to Washington this week, Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, described Israel’s actions as “beyond the scope of self-defence” and did not mention Hamas.
The impact of the crisis may be more tangible among some “swing states”, says Richard Fontaine of the Centre for a New American Security, a think-tank in Washington, DC. These are countries that are “multi-aligned”, and for whose allegiance America, China and Russia compete ever more intensely. Saudi Arabia may demand a higher price from Israel and America if it is ever to follow its Gulf neighbours, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, in establishing formal ties with Israel.
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