European Union foreign ministers have condemned the recent attacks in Israel, called for the protection of civilians and restraint, the release of hostages, for allowing access to food, water and medicines to Gaza in line with international humanitarian law, and opening humanitarian corridors.
This is according to a statement by the Council of the EU after the bloc’s foreign ministers held an informal videoconference during which they discussed the situation in Israel and in the region following recent attacks by terrorist group Hamas.
The EU foreign ministers also emphasised the importance of preparing the aftermath of the attacks, strengthening the cooperation with regional and international players “with a view to reviving the Middle East Peace Process,” the statement said.
The statement said that the ministers discussed “how to continue cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and support the Palestinian people”.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said: “We made a clear distinction between Hamas, the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority.
“We consider Hamas a terrorist organisation […] but the Palestinian authority is another thing, the Palestinian authority is our partner,” Borrell said.
“We do not deal with Hamas but, yes, we support, we deal and we work together with the Palestinian authority. And not all the Palestinian people are terrorists. So a collective punishment against all Palestinians will be unfair and unproductive. It will be against our interests and the interest of the peace,” he said.
An “overwhelming majority” of ministers said that the cooperation with the Palestinian Authority should continue and EU funds should not be discontinued.
This past weekend, after Hamas began in large-scale terrorist attack on Israel, EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said that “all payments” to the Palestinians had been “immediately suspended” and that “all new budget proposals,” including for 2023, had been “postponed until further notice”. The Commission, in a statement at the weekend, contradicted his stance, saying that funding would be “under review”.
The Council of the EU statement said that the foreign ministers agreed on October 10 that the EU would “continue its engagement with all parties and maintain its financial and political support for the region”.
“It will also make sure that its long-term commitment to a political solution based on two states survives these tragic events,” the statement said.
(Photo of Borrell: EC Audiovisual Service)
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