EU leaders follow US cue on Gaza ceasefire, Metsola proposes Red Sea task force

Metsola reiterates call for ceasefire in Gaza as she proposes EU Red Sea economic Task Force

Roberta Metsola at the European Council meeting in Brussels
Roberta Metsola at the European Council meeting in Brussels

European Parliament President Roberta Metsola has proposed the setting-up of an EU-led taskforce to “assess the socio-economic consequences” from the Red Sea retaliations of Houthi rebels in response to Israel’s war on Gaza.

“There is a role for Europe to play here too,” she told EU leaders in Brussels at the Council, where Europe’s prime ministers on the day called for a ceasefire amid the humanitarian tragedy unfolding on the Gaza strip.

“The humanitarian situation in Gaza is desperate,” Metsola said. “We need to use all the tools at our disposal to get more aid in. I welcome the Amalthea Initiative and would like to especially thank Cyprus for your leadership. Nonetheless, land distribution of aid remains the best avenue to deliver the volumes needed.”

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Metsola said the European Parliament will keep pushing for a ceasefire and the return of the remaining hostages. “We underline that Hamas can no longer operate with impunity. This is why we ask for clear conclusions on this today that will give direction going forward.”


EU calls for ceasefire

After 166 days of Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes and ground operations in Gaza, EU leaders yesterday called for a ceasefire, showcasing unanimity on the matter for the first time since October.

With news that the U.S. will propose a resolution at the U.N. Security Council on Friday calling for a ceasefire, the 27 European Union countries signalled consensus on the matter for the first time.

Israel’s operations have killed more than more than 30,000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, which includes thousands of women and children.

The EU’s high representative Josep Borrell and aid groups also have warned of the risk of famine in Gaza. Half of the population in Gaza, which tops 2 million people, is on the brink of famine, an international early warning system set up by governments and NGOs said.

On Friday, the United States will bring a U.N. draft resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and an Israel-Hamas hostage deal to a Security Council vote, also for the first time in the nearly six months since the Israel-Hamas war in Gaza began. Previously, the U.S. has repeatedly vetoed U.N. Security Council resolutions to end the war.

The famine crisis is deepening as Israeli forces press a devastating ground offensive in retribution against the October 7 attacks, in which Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 250 hostages.

In a press conference after the summit, Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen warned about escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.

Michel called on the Israeli government to refrain from launching an operation in Rafah, where Israel directed 1.4 million Palestinians during their bombardment and operation in the enclave. “We believe in the international law, we believe in the international humanitarian law, and that’s why everything must be done to convince, to make sure that there is a real possibility for more humanitarian access,” he said at the press conference.

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