The objective of the extraordinary European Council held this Tuesday by videoconference was to show continental unity, evaluate the situation in Gaza e Israel after what happened in the last 10 days and how it may affect the security of the UE, and study the next steps, with the hope of being able to contribute to a de-escalation so that attacks, bombings and reprisals do not spread throughout the area. But after just over three hours of meeting, the result has been more than bittersweet. European leaders have reiterated their condemnation of what happened in the kibbutzs of southern Israel and have urged (lukewarmly) Netanyahu to maintain proportionality and respect for international law in their response, but they have neither achieved a consensus to request a ceasefire nor have they been able to appear to be on the same line in the subsequent appearance of Charles Michel and Ursula von der Leyen, with different visions about what the blockade of Gaza means in practice.
On Sunday, after a week of chaos, lack of coordination, contradictory messages, non-collegiate announcements and the harshest criticism of the entire legislature to the president of the European Commission, the members of the European Council, the heads of State and Government of The 27 made public a statement to establish their position and put order at home. For Charles Michel’s team, which considered a meeting at the highest level essential, there were four main issues to urgently address. The first, humanitarian aid, after rumors, denied news and then the desperate announcements that what was planned would be immediately tripled and an airlift would be opened to send material through Egypt to the Gaza Strip. The second, how to prevent an escalation and a greater regional conflict. The third, analyze the consequences “for the security of our societies. If we are not careful, the conflict has the potential to exacerbate tensions between communities and fuel extremism,” said Michel in his traditional letter of invitation to the meeting, which serves to lay the foundations for the discussion. In a few days, the attacks in France y Brussels have “raised the specter of terrorism,” Von der Leyen admitted.
The fourth element, probably the most pressing in terms of realpolitik, the significant risk of “migration and displacement of large numbers of people to neighboring countries that already have a significant number of refugees on their territory. If not managed carefully, there is a risk of waves of migration to Europe “, said the Belgian politician bluntly. There has been no further investigation today, aware that the victims who multiply every day in the region should have priority, at least for a few days.
After talking about all these points this afternoon, Michel stressed in his appearance what was already clear and agreed upon: the condemnation of Hamas, the request for respect for international and humanitarian law, the commitment to helping those in need and to Ukraine, that it will not “be forgotten” no matter how much “Russia is trying to benefit from the situation and exploit” the moment. But the 27 have not been able or willing to ask for a ceasefire, they have not taken the opportunity to tell Israel that the response has gotten out of hand (what more and more of them individually think) nor have they shown that they can play a role. real.
The EU does not and will not have a leading role in this matter. Israel has never trusted the EU, it has always rejected its criticism and there have been countless clashes and frictions. The Palestinians, on the other hand, depend enormously on community aid (development and humanitarian), but they have not given the 27 and their institutions a prominent role or taken their suggestions, requests or condemnations into account. Despite everything, and in these especially critical moments, it maintains its way of working and approaching the issue, taking special care of its forms. “We remain committed to finding a lasting and sustainable peace based on a two-State solution by revitalizing efforts within the framework of the peace process in Near East. “We underline the need to engage broadly with legitimate Palestinian authorities and with regional and international partners who can play a positive role in preventing further escalation,” Sunday’s statement said.