On the first day of the European Council 26 October, EU leaders adopted conclusions on the Middle East.
They reiterated their condemnation of Hamas’ brutal terrorist attack and their gravest concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
In light of Hamas’ brutal and indiscriminate terrorist attack against Israel and the unfolding tragic scenes in the Gaza Strip, EU leaders reviewed the state of play and different strands of action, including concerted efforts to assist EU citizens.
In a follow-up to the statement they released on 15 October 2023 and the extraordinary European Council meeting held two days later, they also reaffirmed their:
- condemnation of Hamas in the strongest possible terms
- recognition of Israel’s right to defend itself in line with international law and international humanitarian law
- call on Hamas to immediately release all hostages without any precondition
The leaders underlined the importance to ensure protection of all civilians at all times. They also expressed their grave concern regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and called for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need, including through humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs.
The leaders stressed that the EU will work with partners in the region to:
- protect civilians
- ensure that assistance is not abused by terrorist organisations
- facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel and shelter
To avoid regional escalation, the leaders emphasised the need to engage with partners in the region, including the Palestinian Authority. They also expressed their support for a two-state solution and welcomed diplomatic initiatives, including supporting the holding of an international peace conference soon.