Henry Kissinger warned just before his death that Israel’s war could engulf the Arab world

Henry Kissinger died on Wednesday aged 100

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 30 November 2023 16:33 GMT

Related video: Henry Kissinger, America’s most famous diplomat, dies aged 100

Former top US diplomat Henry Kissinger warned that the war in Israel and Gaza could engulf the rest of the Arab world and throw the international status quo into chaos, during his final interview.

Kissinger died on Wednesday aged 100.

He sat for an interview on German television just days after the Hamas terror attack on 7 October, during which he said he believed there had to be "some penalty" for the bloodshed, and rejected calls for peace in the region, according to Insider.

"Of course, the first instinct is to bring back peace but you can't make concessions to people who have declared and demonstrated by their actions that they cannot make peace," Kissinger said.

Israel's response to Hamas's 7 October attack — which left 1,400 Israelis dead — has been an unrelenting bombing campaign. More than 10,000 Palestinians have been killed since the 7 October attack, and millions more have been displaced.

When asked how he would deal with the hostages taken by Hamas, Kissinger said he couldn't provide a full answer because he was not the one making the final decision, but he did offer some speculation.

"Theoretically and conceptually, I would say that we cannot yield to that," he said.

Kissinger — who fled Nazi Germany earlier in life and had lived through a World War — also warned that the situation in Israel and Gaza had the potential to spiral, engulfing the Arab world and potentially the rest of the globe.

"The Middle East conflict has the danger of escalating and bringing in other Arab countries under the pressure of their public opinion," he said. "And then we're back to where we were in 1973,"

Kissinger served as President Richard Nixon's secretary of state during the 1973 Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur war. He was involved in negotiations between Israel and Egypt during that conflict.

He suggested that Hamas would try to "mobilise the Arab world against Israel" to stall peace talks and likened Hamas's attack against Israel to Russia's land invasion of Ukraine, calling them "fundamental attack[s] on the international system."

In life, Kissinger was controversial and was credited as the architect of an especially bloody era for US foreign policy. Critics of his work, particularly with regard to Vietnam and Southeast Asia more broadly, celebrated his passing on social media while recalling the death and destruction he left in his wake.

Since his interview, Israel has agreed to at least one ceasefire, during which time Hamas released some of its hostages. Demonstrations both for and against Israel have taken place across the globe — including in Israel's neighbors, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon — but the fighting has largely stayed within Gaza.

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