The European Union’s top diplomat said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza “could not be worse”
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip would fuel hatred among Palestinians “for generations,” urging the country to wind down its military campaign and find a peaceful path to a two-state solution.
Speaking ahead of an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday, Borrell said he would engage Israel’s delegation about a “comprehensive approach” to peace, including both the end to the current conflict, as well as longer-term issues regarding Palestinian statehood.
“What we want to do is to build a two-state solution, so let’s talk about it. The way you are naming it is important. So, from now on, I will not talk about the peace process, but about the two-state solution process,” he said. “If we are serious about that, we have to study the underlying causes that prevent this solution from being implemented. Certainly, Hamas is one of them – an important one – but there are others.”
The diplomat lamented the dire conditions in the Palestinian enclave, saying the “humanitarian situation could not be worse” while noting the rapidly climbing death toll among women and children.
Asked about the Israeli government’s current opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state – as was recently reiterated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Borrell said further negotiations were needed, also warning of the consequences should the issue not be resolved.
“If they do not agree [about a Palestinian state] we have to discuss. That is why we are here. We have to discuss even if they disagree,” he continued, asking what alternative Israeli officials had in mind.
“To make all the Palestinians leave? To kill them? 25,000 already in Gaza, 70% women and children. Certainly, the way of trying to destroy Hamas is not the way they are doing, because they are seeding the hate for generations,” Borrell said.
Though most EU states were quick to support Israel’s military response to a deadly Hamas terrorist attack in October, the bloc has gradually grown more critical of the ongoing operation given the immense humanitarian toll. Earlier on Monday, the Financial Times reported that the EU had urged its members to warn Israel of “consequences” if it refuses to recognize a Palestinian state, citing an internal document prepared ahead of Monday’s foreign policy meeting.
In a video address on Sunday, Netanyahu stated that Israel would not “surrender” to Hamas, affirming the previously stated goal of “eradicating” the Palestinian armed group. “I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan [River],” he said.
January 23, 2024 at 10:24AM