The European Union is urging for breaks in the ongoing conflict in Gaza, but there are doubts about the bloc’s ability to make an impact.
The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, stated that he will assist in creating a “humanitarian coalition” to provide aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. This decision was made after a two-day meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels, which concluded on Friday.
Macron stated to journalists that a humanitarian coalition will be formed, which will involve multiple European countries, specifically Cyprus. This coalition will establish a humanitarian sea route.
On Thursday, France declared that it would be sending a helicopter carrier to provide assistance to hospitals in Gaza.
Macron restated his plea for Israel to prioritize the safety of innocent civilians while targeting Hamas militants in Gaza, following a cross-border attack by the militant group on October 7 which resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 Israeli soldiers and civilians.
According to Palestinian health officials, the recent conflict has resulted in over 7,000 deaths from Israeli airstrikes, including numerous children. Additionally, more than 600,000 people have been displaced and left without homes.
Macron stated that if there is a complete blockade or untargeted bombing, and especially if there is a large ground operation, it would not be feasible to provide necessary protection for civilians. He believes that implementing a humanitarian pause would be beneficial in safeguarding those who have been affected by the shelling.
Previously, Macron proposed that the coalition of nations that united to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could assist Israel in dealing with Hamas extremists.
After the summit, EU leaders released a statement advocating for “corridors and pauses” to be established in order to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.
“In Gaza, Hamas has caused a humanitarian crisis. The Commission stresses the urgency of increasing our actions to address this crisis. It is crucial that aid is able to reach Gaza efficiently and without obstacles,” stated EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a press conference on Thursday.
The European Union has shown support for Israel’s right to protect itself in accordance with international laws. However, experts believe that the ongoing conflict has revealed disagreements within the bloc.
Ian Bond, director of foreign policy at the Center for European Reform, stated that there is some form of agreement in place, but it only temporarily addresses the underlying issues.
Bond stated that reaching a consensus on the final formula took a considerable amount of time. He noted that there were extensive debates about whether to include a single “pause” or multiple “pauses” for humanitarian reasons. Many individuals were concerned that using the term “pause” could be mistaken for a ceasefire, which was not their intention.
The European Union has urged for a renewed emphasis on a two-state resolution to the conflict in the Middle East. They have also suggested that an international peace conference should be held at the earliest opportunity.
According to Bond, Israel demonstrates limited readiness to halt its attack on Hamas objectives, and the EU’s declaration is not expected to have a significant influence.
Bond stated that the European Union’s impact on Israel has been restricted for a significant period of time, especially during the Netanyahu administration. The current Israeli leader does not support the EU, so it is uncertain if he even cared about their request for a pause or multiple pauses.
The European Union has also considered approving a $53 billion aid plan for Ukraine to help combat Russia’s aggression. However, a final decision on the specifics is not anticipated until December.
Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary who has often spoken against Western aid to Ukraine, stated that he needed more convincing reasons before he could support the proposal. Orban recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, causing backlash from Western partners. On the other hand, Slovakia’s newly elected Prime Minister Robert Fico cited concerns about corruption in Ukraine.
Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister of Ireland, condemned their stances, stating, “If we fail to intervene in Ukraine against Putin, he will continue to expand. This poses a threat to all of us.”
According to Bond, the majority of EU countries are in favor of providing ongoing military and financial aid to Kyiv. He clarified that while there may be some differences of opinion within the EU, leaders like Orban may publicly express their opinions but ultimately do not hinder the consensus in the European Council regarding assistance for Ukraine.
Bond told VOA that the majority of member states continue to strongly support Ukraine and its efforts to receive aid and join the European Union. He also mentioned that negotiations for accession are likely to begin in the upcoming year.
The conflict in the Middle East will not divert the EU’s support for Ukraine, according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
During a recent press conference, Scholz stated that in a recent phone call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, he reassured him that our support for Ukraine will remain strong and will not be impacted by the current issue of Hamas’ violent attack on Israel and its citizens.