[WATCH] Robert Abela suggests Metsola used power for personal gain amid Israel-Hamas conflict

Addressing Labour supporters, Prime Minister Robert Abela said being neutral doesn't mean being indifferent to people's suffering • Abela says the budget will again support the energy sector

Prime Minister Robert Abela has suggested that European Parliament President Roberta Metsola used her power to satisfy her "personal ego" instead of seeking peace in the Israeli-Hamas conflict.

“There are those who, instead of utilising their authority and resources, which includes her position, to seek a resolution for peace and avert further loss of life, employ them as opportunities to advance their career,” Abela said on Sunday morning in Gozo.

Abela did not mention Metsola by name but his words, spoken in a Maltese context, were a clear reference to the European Parliament President, who last week visited Israel along with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Both European leaders came under fire for what was perceived by many within the EU as a pro-Israeli stance.

Metsola is expected to be a candidate again for the Nationalist Party in next year's European Parliament election.

Israel and Hamas have been at war for the past two weeks. The conflict began when the Palestinian militant group launched surprise cross-border raids from Gaza, resulting in the death of more than 1,400 people and the taking of hostages. 

In response, Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip and bombed the terrirtory relentlessly. Palestinian authorities say almost 4,000 Palestinians have died and many in the already overcrowded and impoverished territory are in desperate need of assistance.

The visit by Von der Leyen and Metsola was intended as a show of solidarity with Israel following the Hamas attacks. Von der Leyen has been accused of exceeding her authority. Metsola was also criticised for adopting a "pro-Israeli" stance and for not coming out strongly against Israel's blockade and bombardment of Gaza.

Addressing the issue in front of party supporters in Gozo, Abela said it is a shame that some "are using their power for their own personal advancement."

"She only perceived an opportunity for personal gain; how much more she will achieve; how much further she will advance. What a pity! This underscores the disparity in our political approaches," Abela said.

Abela recalled how the government immediately condemned the Hamas attacks but also the Israeli response, which violates international humanitarian law.

"To be neutral does not mean being indifferent to people's suffering," Abela stated.

Abela insisted that this neutrality prompted Ukraine's Presidential Office to choose Malta to host the next round of talks on the Peace Formula Initiative.

"Because our country maintains neutrality and promotes peace when others resort to military actions, that's why Malta was selected to host the Ukraine peace talks," Abela added.

Next year will see the government ensuring stability in energy sector prices, Abela says

Abela announced that next week's budget will prioritise ensuring stability in energy sector prices.

"The support for energy prices has been the most significant measure we have taken in recent years, and it will remain a top priority in the upcoming budget," Abela declared.

Abela emphasised that ongoing discussions with the public were instrumental in formulating decisions and crafting a budget that benefits many, particularly in the face of rising inflation.

He responded to opposition claims that the assistance in the energy sector was unsustainable by arguing that if families were to face hundreds of euros in additional monthly energy costs, their quality of life would decline.

"Next year, we will once again allocate hundreds of millions of euros to reinforce this crucial measure," he reiterated.

The Prime Minister also raised questions about whether it is acceptable for a government to be aware of importers profiteering by charging excessive prices for these essential items, even after benefiting from the government’s aid.

Few weeks ago, Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba asked the European Commission to investigate Maltese food importers for antitrust violations.

"Malta's size and geographical limitations," he argued, "led to the formation of de facto monopolies where a handful of importers dominate the market."

Reacting to this, and the criticism Aguis Saliba received particularly from the Opposition, Abela emphasised the importance of ensuring fair prices for essential goods to protect the welfare of the Maltese people. 

"It's crucial to question whom the opposition is truly protecting. The Maltese people should be at the forefront of our priorities," Abela said.

He went on to suggest that the opposition may be driven by the singular goal of toppling the current government and seizing power for personal gain, rather than serving the best interests of the nation.