EU Leaders Advocate for First-Ever Eventual Ceasefire in Gaza

Simona Mazzeo

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – EU Council unite, urging for the first-time ceasefire in Gaza amidst humanitarian crisis. Pressure mounts on Israel as calls for action intensify.

European heads have unanimously urged for “an immediate humanitarian pause directing to a sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza after Hungary subscribed to the argument for the first time since the eruption of the Israel-Hamas war.

The breakthrough tracks five months of deep splits between the 27 leaders, whose failure to unite around a call for a truce has put EU unity under pressure. EU leaders lament the “catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and its disproportionate effect on civilians” as well as the “famine induced by the insufficient entry of aid into Gaza.”

“I think it was very deeply felt, the unity of the message tonight,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed following the summit. “The acknowledgement that Israel has the freedom to do everything possible that the 7th of October will never occur again (…) but it also must do everything feasible to protect civilian life.”

The Commission head has in the past been condemned for adopting a pro-Israeli perspective and hesitating to call out the extreme loss of Palestinian life. But in a significant turn of rhetoric, von der Leyen argued with Israel to allow for a wave in humanitarian aid, stating that the minimum point of 500 daily trucks was not presently being allowed to enter the Gaza strip. European Council President Charles Michel, liable for brokering the middle between leaders, praised the “strong and unified statement.”

While member nations such as Belgium, Ireland, and Spain have urged for a ceasefire as far back as late October, the Czech Republic and Hungary had earlier blocked such a call for worry it would sabotage the bloc’s support for Israel’s privilege to self-defence. All EU foreign ministers – bar Hungary’s – supported a call for an eventual truce in the besieged Gaza strip in February, but Budapest exerted its veto power.

The EU is driving in lockstep with its trans-Atlantic ally. Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, reported. He would go for “an immediate ceasefire tied to the liberation of hostages” in a resolution to be tabled at the UN Security Council. It is noticed as a stark caution to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a significant shift in the position of the US, which has voted down UN solutions on a ceasefire three times.

In the announcement, leaders also demand Israel not to proceed with its intended invasion of the southern Gazan town of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians are assessed to be harbouring from war. “We can imagine what would be the consequences if such an operation was launched,” von der Leyen expressed about Rafah. They also insist that Israel abide by the International Court of Justice’s milestone order in January, which obliges Netanyahu’s administration to take measures to prevent genocide in Gaza.

EU Leaders are Deeply concerned

In the harshly-worded opinion, leaders state they are “appalled” and “deeply concerned” by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and say “additional land crossings” are required to deliver life-saving aid. A new maritime passage linking Cyprus with Gaza, called Amalthea, has welcomed the EU’s backing. Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides briefs reporters that a second support ship for Gaza will likely leave from the island this week.

Many leaders have expressed a maritime corridor cannot substitute access by land and demanded that Israeli authorities do more to ensure aid reaches Palestinians. “Gaza is on the verge of starvation-  a catastrophic humanitarian situation,” von der Leyen cautioned.

In recent weeks, bags of famine have occurred in Gaza. Major international organisations, including the UN’s World Food Programme, have been pushed to temporarily suspend deliveries of food to the north of Gaza due to the disorder wrought as hungry Palestinians attempt to access aid convoys. The WFP’s Famine Review Committee has cautioned that over 500,000, almost one in four of the residents, could fall into famine by May.

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Simona Mazzeo is a journalist at Brussels Morning News. She is covering European Parliament, European Council, European Commission & Italy News. She is a law graduate and lawyer residing in Agropoli, has carved out a multifaceted career dedicated to justice and social advocacy. She actively serves as a delegated councilor for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Bar Association of Vallo della Lucania, championing fair and equal representation within the legal system. Recognized for her expertise and empathy, Simona is qualified for registration in the list of Special Curators of minors in civil and criminal matters at the Court of Vallo della Lucania, ensuring the rights and interests of vulnerable children are protected throughout legal proceedings. Beyond her legal practice, Simona demonstrates a strong commitment to social causes. She is a founding member of the Free Lawyer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. Additionally, she leverages her knowledge and passion for social justice as a non-professional journalist, contributing insightful and informative pieces on relevant legal and societal issues. Through her diverse endeavors, Simona Mazzeo exemplifies dedication to legal excellence, social responsibility, and a fervent belief in equal access to justice for all.