US President Joe Biden has asserted that one of the factors behind the recent terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel could be related to an ambitious infrastructure project announced during the G-20 Summit in New Delhi. The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), launched earlier this year, aims to connect the entire region through an extensive railroad network.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference with the visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese in Washington, Biden said, “I’m convinced one of the reasons Hamas attacked when they did — and I have no proof of this; just my instinct tells me — is because of the progress we were making towards regional integration for Israel and regional integration overall. And we can’t leave that work behind.”
The IMEEC, which many see as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, was jointly announced by the leaders of the US, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, Germany, Italy and the European Union on the sidelines of the G20 summit in September. The corridor comprises an eastern corridor connecting India to the Gulf region and a northern corridor connecting the Gulf region to Europe.
Arguing for greater cooperation in the region, Biden said the idea that the Middle Eastern nations cooperating economically and politically changes the dynamics significantly. “And so, I — I just think that it is — it’s something that it’s in everyone’s interest — including, long-term, in China’s interest,” he said.
This is the second time in less than a week that Biden has mentioned the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor as a potential reason for the October 7 attack by Hamas that killed more than 1,400 people. A subsequent military response by Israel in Gaza has also claimed the lives of over 6,000 Palestinians.
Since the start of the war, Israeli airstrikes have devastated parts of the Gaza Strip. The UN warned that it is on the verge of running out of fuel in the densely populated conclave, forcing it to sharply curtail relief efforts. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council failed again to address the Israeli-Hamas war, rejecting rival resolutions by the United States and Russia.