MEPs seek unified EU voice for two-state solution for Palestine and end to Israeli attacks

Gaza debate in Brussels strove to find common voice amongst MEPs in providing unified EU response to call for an end to merciless Israeli bombing of Gaza strip

Hadja Lahbib
Hadja Lahbib

MEPs in Brussels held a debate on Tuesday on the ongoing situation in Gaza, where a merciless bombardment of the occupied Palestinian strip by the Israeli Defence Forces has been ongoing for over 100 days.

Opening the debate, Belgian foreign minister Hadja Lahbib said the number of civilian victims in Gaza, of which over 70% of women and children, was absolutely intolerable and called on Israel to fall in line with legality and morality. “This is a message that we in the Union, its member states, have been working to contribute to try and reduce the suffering and provide necessary humanitarian support for Gaza.”

Lahbib said that even if politicians do not agree on the causes and solutions of the current crisis, it was incumbent upon them to find a solution based on international promises, including a Palestinian state, which could ensure long lasting security for Palestinians as well as for Israelis. “All EU member states and the vast majority of this House agree on this point, and this is something that should be our strategic priority”

Janez Lenarcic, European Commissioner for Crisis Management, said Brussels continued to support the Palestinian Authority with a €118.4 million aid package that would increase in 2024. “This will aim to convey support to the Palestinian Authority and lay the ground for longer term economic and political stability in Gaza and the West Bank.”

MEPs joining the debate included Spanish member Antonio Ruiz White (EPP) who said that while supporting a two-state solution, sustainable peace could not exist as long as Hamas and other terrorist groups hijack the Palestinian cause and threaten the existence of Israel.

Portuguese MEP Pedro Marques (S&D) agreed that Hamas was a terrorist group that should be eliminated, but added this could not be done at any cost. “Civilians are not fighters. Children are not terrorists. Collective punishment, including famine and thirst, is not respect and violations of international law and war crimes. All of them must be held to account.”

Belgian MEP Hilde Vautmans (Renew) called on the EU to be a player on the world stage and speak with one voice in securing a two-state solutions. “Try to find a single position so we can speak with one voice, so that we can speak with one voice and show the world what the European priorities.”

Spanish MEP Jordi Solé (Greens) questioned the Israeli response to the 7 October attacks by Hamas. “What I do question is that there was no way to respond other than the one that has claimed the lives of nearly 20,000 people so far, the one that has wiped out 1% of the population of Gaza, 10,000 children, entire families, journalists, doctors, teachers and workers from international agencies. Do you want convince me that there was no other way to retaliate against Hamas?”

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