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EU Controversy Over “Humanitarian Ceasefire” in Middle East War – What’s It About?

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As of: October 25, 2023 6:32 PM

Ahead of EU summit, member states are divided: Should Israel and Hamas call for a ceasefire? Foreign Minister Berbach has a counter proposal. Overview.

A row has erupted over a final declaration of war in the Middle East ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday. The reason is the different attitude of the EU countries regarding the “ceasefire” discussed between Israel and Hamas. But the scandal between Israel and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also plays a role. Most important questions and answers.

What is it about?

EU Council President Charles Michel’s first draft of the EU summit on the Middle East war said: “The European Council supports the call by United Nations Secretary-General Guterres to provide a humanitarian pause to enable safe access for humanitarian aid.” However, according to diplomats, the text did not agree with EU countries.

What is Guterres demanding?

UN Secretary-General Guterres has been calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” for days. German UN in Berlin The mission translated it as an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” a spokesman said upon request. By this, Guterres means “a temporary pause in the fighting” for humanitarian aid, rescuing the wounded and so on. But the fighting “could resume at any time,” according to the German UN delegation.

Who backs Guterres’ claim?

Government politicians from countries such as Spain, Belgium and Ireland have recently expressed support for Gutter’s call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. France also approved it.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell was also open to the move ahead of the EU Council meeting: “Personally, I think a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary for humanitarian aid to arrive and be distributed.” This is urgent because half of the more than two million residents of the Gaza Strip may have to flee their homes in anticipation of an Israeli ground attack.

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Who opposes Guterres’ demands?

Apart from Austria, the Czech Republic and Latvia, Germany is also skeptical of the call for a ceasefire. The German government fears that such a statement could be perceived by the EU as questioning Israel’s right to self-defense. Germany will therefore insist that this paragraph be changed or deleted before the EU summit begins.

Union Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbach clarified her position at a meeting in Luxembourg. He spoke of “squaring the circle”: “We will not be able to contain the humanitarian catastrophe if terror continues in Gaza like this,” he said: “Only by fighting terrorism will there be peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians.”

Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said: “We cannot say that Israel can no longer defend itself when Hamas fires rockets at its cities.”

What is being discussed instead of Guterres’ request?

Council President Michel has already weakened Guterres’ formation. In his draft EU declaration he talks about a “humanitarian pause”. The word “ceasefire” that Guterres actually used was not there. EU foreign policy chief Borrel is also pushing for such a “humanitarian pause”.

However, Israel’s friends in the European Union are also skeptical of the formation, as it looks like yet another ceasefire to them.

What counter proposal does Germany make?

Foreign Minister Baerbach brought up the term “humanitarian window” at a UN Security Council debate in New York on Tuesday. There have already been such “humanitarian breakdowns” in the past few days, the Foreign Office quoted Baerbaugh as saying in X. The pluralism was intended to ensure that Israel did not press for a unilateral ceasefire.

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What will the deal look like?

Just before the EU summit, a new draft of the summit was released. AFP news agency quoted from the draft. Accordingly, reference to UN Secretary-General Guterres no longer appears. Israel earlier expressed outrage in New York at Guterres’ statement that Palestinians have been living under Israel’s “suffocating occupation” for decades.

Instead, according to the draft text, the EU now wants to call for humanitarian aid to be provided to those in need “by all necessary measures, including a humanitarian pause”. However, the unified formulation continues to be viewed critically by Germany and other EU countries and will lead to further debates.

(Sources: AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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