George Vella calls for an end to Gaza ‘carnage’

Foreign affairs minister calls for an end to the “carnage” in Gaza and calls on both sides to agree on truce during EU summit 

Foreign affairs minister George Vella called for an end to the what he described as a “carnage” in Gaza.

Vella expressed deep concern at the ongoing violence and the mounting death toll “that overwhelmingly includes innocent Palestinian civilians”

Since the Israeli siege on the Gaza strip started last week, at least 607 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed.

While condemning the rocket attacks from Gaza targeting Israel he called on Israel to ensure that its military response be proportionate and called on both sides to “agree immediately on a ceasefire and stop the carnage.”

Vella insisted that the escalation in Gaza is not the main issue, but the symptom of the wider situation, with the current pause in the peace process and no prospect that a negotiated settlement between the Israelis and the Palestinians will happen any time soon.

“Any hope remaining is being extinguished by the ongoing occupation of Palestinian Territory, the blockade of Gaza and daily violations of the basic rights of the Palestinian people,” he said.

Vella was attending the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels where EU Ministers met to discuss two issues which are currently dominating the international headlines: the ongoing conflict in Ukraine in light of the downing of the Malaysian airliner, and the continuing hostilities in Gaza and Israel. The deteriorating situation in Iraq was also discussed.

The minister added that International Community must address not only the need for a ceasefire in Gaza but also a resumption of a more comprehensive political process.

In this regard Vella welcomed the adoption of the Council Conclusions in which for the first time the EU set out a full set of parameters which it believes will define the basis for a successful outcome of negotiations once these resume.

Vella also raised the situation in Libya and stressed the importance that the EU remains vigilant about the ongoing deterioration of security with ramifications for the immediate region.

In the afternoon Minister Vella attended the Eastern Partnership Ministerial Meeting which discussed the EU's relations with its Eastern partners as well as the ongoing political situation in the region and the impact of the Ukrainian crisis.

Vella urged Russia to commit towards stabilization in east Ukraine, an end to the carnage in Gaza and a resumption of the political process in the Middle East

He joined colleagues in expressing condolences to the Netherlands and other Member States that lost citizens in the incident and condemned those responsible for bringing down the airliner.

Vella also called on Russia to be more cooperative and commit towards contributing to the stabilisation of Eastern Ukraine, starting with an immediate ceasefire.

Ministers agreed on to undertake work in preparation of the adoption of further targeted measures should Russia fail to stop the increasing flow of weapons, equipment and militants across the border and achieve rapid and tangible results towards de-escalation.