European Council President Charles Michel underlined that “nothing can justify the terror and cruelty unleashed by Hamas against Israel” and insisted that Israel has the right to defend itself, in line with international humanitarian law. Stressing that “each civilian life matters”, President Michel noted that “a total siege is not in line with international law” and called for humanitarian pauses and corridors to Gaza, to ensure aid gets to those in need.
He also restated the EU’s strong support for Ukraine, for “as long as it is needed” and commended the country’s progress towards EU accession. Charles Michel also referred to the discussions about the long-term EU budget, which should keep Ukraine as a priority, together with migration, security, defence and inter-member state solidarity.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasized the dire humanitarian situation in the Middle East and the EU’s commitment to aid and to finding a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. She said the EU has increased aid to Gaza and is working on a maritime aid corridor from Cyprus. “The pain of innocent civilians in the Middle East shakes the conscience of the world,” she said, underscoring the urgency of the situation. She also discussed EU enlargement, with a focus on advancing the membership perspectives of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, with the overall goal of strengthening the Union economically and politically.
MEPs reiterated their condemnation of the terrorist attacks by Hamas, while also emphasising the need to protect civilians, avoid collective punishment, and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches civilians. Several speakers called for the immediate release of hostages and a humanitarian pause in the fighting, and highlighted the need to avoid an escalation of violence and a vicious circle of retribution.
Some MEPs also raised the need for additional financial resources as part of the revision of the EU’s long-term budget, to respond to the situation in the Middle East and boost security in Europe, and called for an international peace conference.
You can watch the debate here.