EU wants to call for “humanitarian breaks” in the Gaza Strip

A “ceasefire” in the Gaza Strip? This formulation had divided the EU states in the run-up to the joint summit.

But now a weaker compromise appears to have been found for the planned final declaration.

The heads of state and government of the EU countries will meet in Brussels for a joint summit for two days. The central topic is the attacks on Israel by the militant Islamist Hamas. A dispute had already broken out in the run-up to the summit over the final declaration on how to deal with the war in the Middle East. Now a compromise seems to be emerging.

One term in particular had divided the EU states: In order to ensure the supply of aid to the population in the Gaza Strip, the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, had called for a “humanitarian ceasefire”. Approval came from Spain, Belgium and Ireland, among others, within the EU.

But several countries, including Germany, rejected this formulation out of concern that it could jeopardize Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist militia attacks.

Draft moves away from calling for a “ceasefire”.

The revised draft of the final declaration by the EU members therefore moves away from the formulation of a “ceasefire”, as the news agencies dpa and AFP unanimously reported. Instead, “humanitarian corridors” and “humanitarian breaks” should be called for to enable aid deliveries to the Gaza Strip. This choice of words is intended to make it clear that Israel is in no way being asked to stop its fight against Hamas.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock had also suggested similar formulations to the UN Security Council: She spoke of “humanitarian windows” and also “humanitarian breaks”. The plural should ensure that Israel does not feel pressured into a unilateral ceasefire.

There had been a long struggle to supply the people in the Gaza Strip with goods such as water, food and medical equipment. Just a few days ago, the Rafah border crossing on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was opened. Since then, several aid convoys have passed through the border post.

EU condemns use of civilians as protective shields

It is undisputed that the position of the EU states, which was once again stated in the planned final declaration, is to condemn “in the strongest possible terms” the “brutal and arbitrary attacks” by Hamas on Israel that have been ongoing since October 7th. The use of civilians as human shields is a particularly deplorable cruelty, the dpa quotes from the draft. The EU members once again strongly emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself in accordance with international law and humanitarian law.

At the same time, the EU countries promised to continue to work “closely with partners in the region” to protect civilians and provide further assistance. In this regard, the revised draft added the addition that it was necessary to ensure that “this support is not abused by terrorist organizations”.

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