Published 12th October 2023

‘Very significant’ risk Israel conflict will escalate, Hockey warns

The Australian | October 11, 2023

By Glenda Korporaal

Former treasurer and ambassador Joe Hockey has warned that there is a “very significant” risk of a serious escalation of the conflict in Israel, which could spark worldwide polarisation as countries lined up on different sides.

“It is really serious,” said Mr Hockey, the former Australian ambassador to the US.

“The risks of escalation are very significant.”

“If the US gets involved, there will be repercussions.”

Speaking at the Citi Australian Investment Conference in Sydney on Wednesday, Mr Hockey said other countries such as Russia could back Iran and Hamas in the Gaza Strip if the conflict escalated.

“There is a danger that everyone goes into their corner.

“The world is polarising to such a degree that there is a danger you lose control,” he said.

“The US is under enormous pressure.”

Mr Hockey, who now runs a global consultancy called Bondi Partners, said President Biden had been criticised for releasing $US6bn ($9.33bn) in funds to the Iranian government in return for the release of hostages.

He believed that Iran had backed the Hamas attack on southern Israel as it feared that Saudi Arabia was negotiating a peace arrangement with Israel over the Palestinian situation.

Mr Hockey said Hamas’ attack on Israel had been very well thought through and coordinated.

He said the issue was also playing out during the lead up to the US presidential election next year.

Mr Hockey said the former US ambassador to the United Nations, Republican presidential contender Nikky Hayley, was now urging Israel to attack Iran.

“There is a massive potential for escalation,” he said.

“I don’t know how it could be de-escalated.”

Mr Hockey said Australia would also seek revenge if someone had invaded Australian territory and taken hostages.

“It’s going to be horrendous,” he said.

Mr Hockey, who was Federal Treasurer before going to Washington as Ambassador, said there were questions being asked in the US about how long it could continue to back Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

He said President Biden had been “steadfast” in his support for Ukraine, but the European countries had been weak and were relying on the US to “do the heavy lifting” on funding the war in Ukraine.

Mr Hockey also said the world should not “walk away” from defending Ukraine.

He said there were other potential world “hot spots” which could raise global political tensions including tensions between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“These hot spots are raising the temperature of geopolitics globally,” he said.

He said increasing global tensions would feed into “sustainably higher inflation” and fuel protectionism.

Mr Hockey said he believed the US election campaign next year would be fought between Biden as the Democrat contender and Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, but he would not give his prediction on who he thought would win.

Read more at The Australian.

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