Foreign ministers of European Union countries have called for a ceasefire to end days of violence in Palestine, but failed to achieve the unanimity that the EU could give influence in peacemaking.
Hungary, Israel’s closest ally in the bloc, refused to join 26 other foreign ministers in calling for a truce on their video call on Tuesday, summoned by the foreign policy chief of the ‘EU, Josep Borrell.
After chairing the meeting, Borrell said there was a broad consensus among ministers that “the priority is the immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a ceasefire” .
The EU’s traditional divisions over policy towards Israel and the Palestinians were the subject of an unusual public broadcast on Tuesday after Borrell admitted that Hungary was the only one of the 27 member countries to fail. not approve of his remarks. He did not provide details.
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto later told AFP news agency: “I have a general problem with these European statements on Israel… They are generally very one-sided, and these statements do not help, especially not. under the current circumstances, when the voltage so high. “
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has warned that the conflict could spread throughout the region if no ceasefire is agreed. He also said he hoped Israel did not launch a ground operation in Gaza.
“Every day carries greater risks: the risk of the conflict spreading in the West Bank, the risk of violence within Israel itself, the risk of the conflict becoming regional,” Le Drian told reporters in Paris at the meeting. ‘a break in the meeting.
Nonetheless, the other ministers promised that the EU would try to relaunch the peace process with the United States, Russia and the United Nations.
“At a minimum, we can try to get a ceasefire, then provide humanitarian aid, then see what can be done to revive the Middle East peace process to address the root causes of the violence, “Maltese Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo told Reuters. 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 were injured. Twelve people in Israel died, including two children, while at least 300 were 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, ”said Le Drian.
He also said: “One of the reasons for the dramatic situation today is precisely that there is no prospect for a political process. What we need to do is find the way to a political process, but above all, to ensure the end of hostilities. “
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also declared that “the guns must finally be silent”.
Maas underlined 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: “we are in favor of expanding its mediation efforts”.
The other three Quartet members are the United Nations, the United States and Russia.
“We must use our relations with the two sides to encourage confidence-building measures which could lead to appeasement of the situation both in Israel and in the West Bank,” Maas added.
“Only in this way will it be possible to speak again of a lasting solution to the conflict in the Middle East.”