The foreign ministers of the nations of the European Union have called for a ceasefire to end the days of violence in Palestine, but have failed to reach the unanimity that could leverage the EU in peace.
Hungary, Israel’s closest ally in the bloc, refused to join the other 26 foreign ministers in calling for a truce in their video call, convened by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.
After chairing the meeting, Borrell said there was widespread agreement among ministers that “the priority is the immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a ceasefire.”
Traditional EU divisions over policy toward Israel and the Palestinians received an unusual public broadcast on Tuesday after Borrell admitted that Hungary was alone among the 27 member countries for not supporting his statements. He did not provide details.
Later, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told AFP news agency: “I have a general problem with these European statements about Israel … They are usually very one-sided, and these statements do not help, especially in the current circumstances, when the tension is so high. “
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that the conflict could spread across the region if a ceasefire is not agreed. He also said he hoped Israel would not launch a ground operation in Gaza.
“Every day carries greater risks: the risk of the conflict spreading to the West Bank, the risk of violence inside Israel, the risk of the conflict becoming regional,” Le Drian told reporters in Paris during a break at the meeting.
However, the other ministers promised that the EU would try to relaunch the peace process together with the United States, Russia and the United Nations.
“At the very least, we can try to achieve a ceasefire, provide humanitarian aid and then see what can be done to restart the Middle East peace process to address the root causes of the violence,” he told the news. Reuters the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malta, Evarist Bartolo. agency.
“We cannot let extremists on both sides feed off each other and set the agenda,” he said.
At least 217 Palestinians, including 61 children, have been killed in Gaza since the attacks began earlier this month.
About 1,500 Palestinians have been injured. Twelve people have been killed in Israel, including two children, while at least 300 have been injured.
“The situation on the ground is extremely worrying. There are a large number of victims. Israeli and Palestinian families are in mourning. The images are terrible and cannot leave anyone indifferent. Waiting is not an option, ”Le Drian said.
He also said: “One of the reasons for the current dramatic situation is precisely because there is no perspective for a political process. What we need to do is find the way to a political process, but before anything else, to ensure that hostilities end ”.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said “weapons must be silenced at last.”
Maas stressed the role of the Diplomatic Quartet, in which the EU is represented by its new envoy for peace in the Middle East, Sven Koopmans, and said that “we are in favor of further expanding its mediation efforts”.
The other three members of the Quartet are the UN, the US and Russia.
“We must use our relations with both parties to foster confidence-building steps that could lead to a calming situation in both Israel and the West Bank,” Maas added.
“Only then will we be able to talk again about a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict.”