Neither ceasefire, nor end of hostilities. What the EU is starting to say, and what it is probably going to ask for at the highest level this week, is a “humanitarian pause”. In the Israeli bombings on Gaza, in the launching of rockets from the Strip to the south of Israel, so that the release of the hostages and so that the humanitarian aidwhich if it was important before, is now irreplaceable for the survival of hundreds of thousands of people.
The expression “humanitarian pause”, used last week in a European Parliament resolution, is the only one about which there seems to be “an basic consensus” right now in Brussels. Then it was criticized because it fell short (deputies from the left voted against it precisely for that reason) but now it seems the only firm ground. Countries like Spain or Ireland openly lean towards the “ceasefire”, and This was requested by their Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg on Monday, but not even the “humanitarian ceasefire” formula, proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres (but not backed by a formal resolution), convinces all capitals, who believe it is going too far.
Without a doubt, they would prefer that the violence end, but many, among them the most important, believe that it is not appropriate to demand it, since it would be a interference in Israel’s right to self-defense, to which everyone has the right. So they are not going to go further for the moment, just as the US did not allow even the mention of a pause at the UN. The Italian minister sums it up well Antonio Tajani: “We support humanitarian pauses to send supplies, but a truce is something else. The truce cannot mean that Israel gives up its self-defense,” explained the head of Forza Italia.
“Personally I think that a humanitarian pause is necessary to allow humanitarian delivery and distribution in Gaza,” said this Monday the high representative for Foreign Policy, Joseph Borrell, emphasizing that “half” of the population in the Strip has had to leave their homes or cities in the last week. The key word in that sentence, and in the rest of the ones she has uttered, is “personally.” Borrell wants a truce, an immediate ceasefire, but he is the spokesperson for the 27 on Foreign and Security matters and he knows that there is no common position on the matter. So you can go around it, define the terms vaguely, insist on “concern for murdered civilians,” but without going much further.
“In Cairo there was a lot of talk about the need to stop the violence and think about the civilian casualties. The ceasefire is more than a pause, much more. A pause is just that, an interruption of something that then continues. It is a less ambitious objective than a ceasefire, which is an agreement between the parties. A pause can be agreed upon more quickly and I believe that this is what the ministers have understood,” the veteran Spanish politician admitted with resignation.