Middle East: Gaza war: EU for ceasefire and peace conference

The EU states are calling for ceasefires and protected corridors for aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip in order to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population there.

Middle East: Gaza war: EU for ceasefire and peace conference

The EU states are calling for ceasefires and protected corridors for aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip in order to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population there. In addition, in a summit decision late in the evening, they advocated an early international peace conference for the Middle East. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez proposed hosting such a conference within six months "to find a two-state solution for Israel and for Palestine."

The EU's handling of the dramatic events in the Middle East was the focus of the first day of the EU summit in Brussels. For around five hours, the heads of state and government discussed, above all, the question of what can be done to protect the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and to prevent a regional escalation of the conflict.

In the conflict between the Islamist Hamas and Israel, people are calling for rapid, safe, unhindered and continuous access for aid deliveries, the summit declaration said at the end. In order to prevent a regional escalation of the conflict, the Palestinian Authority must also be involved.

Germany on one side - Spain on the other

With the statement, the European Union is sharpening its tone towards Israel in view of the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which is currently responding to massacres of Israelis by Hamas, which rules there, with massive attacks on targets in the coastal strip. Germany and countries such as Austria and Hungary had actually wanted more reserved language, but ultimately accepted a compromise in the face of significantly more demanding demands from other states. Countries like Spain had called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and even clearer words on possible violations of international law.

The compromise now is to use the plural “breaks” instead of “pause”. With the term “ceasefire,” countries like Germany want to make it clear that the EU is not calling on Israel to stop the fight against Hamas with immediate effect and permanently.

Israel may want to respond today

Israel's Foreign Ministry initially did not want to comment on the EU states' demands yesterday evening. When asked, a spokesman said they might comment on this today.

It initially remained unclear how exactly the EU wanted to support a peace conference. Diplomats said that this would only be successful if Israel participated. At the same time, it is unlikely that Israel will sit down at the table with Palestinians in the foreseeable future. A conference will probably only be possible after a ground offensive against Hamas.

Abbas has also already called for a peace conference

Earlier this week, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on the international community to hold a peace conference during a visit by French President Emmanuel Macron to the Palestinian Territories. He rejected any partial solutions to the Gaza Strip. Macron also said on the occasion that resuming talks was more necessary than ever. A peace summit had already taken place in Cairo last weekend - but without Israeli participation.

Macron's push for an anti-Hamas coalition is only a peripheral issue

During his Middle East trip, Macron expressed another idea that only played a peripheral role at the summit. He suggested that the coalition founded in 2014 to combat the terrorist organization Islamic State could also be used against Hamas. “France is ready for the international anti-IS coalition, within which we are committed to our operations in Iraq and Syria, to also be able to fight against Hamas,” said Macron. As of today, Germany is also a member of the US-led coalition.

According to participants, Macron expressed the idea during the consultations in Brussels. However, it was not discussed in more detail.

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