EU calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza for the first time

(Photo: Twitter/X)
STRASBOURG - On Thursday, in a surprising twist of events, the European Union (EU) approved a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza for the first time since October 7, 2023. The resolution also calls for the expedition to deliver humanitarian aid to the Strip.اضافة اعلان

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, the EU member states approved a non-binding, symbolic resolution by a vote of 312 to 131, with 72 members abstaining, multiple media sources reported.

Prior to this decision, the EU tiptoed around the idea of a permanent ceasefire; their official line is "humanitarian pauses and corridors," a wording that implies a temporary solution rather than the complete interruption of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.

Bruno Lété, the senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund, said that, although purely symbolic, calls from the EU and world leaders can have an effect.

"We have seen... some EU leaders, leaders in the Arab world, and even close allies of Israel, such as the US, calling on Israel to show more restraint in its actions in Gaza," Lété explained.

Additionally, EU officials confirmed that the EU will be providing financial support to the Palestinian Authority (PA) after Israel heavily deducted Palestinian tax revenues and $2.3 billion in losses since the beginning of the war on Gaza.

These decisions are surprising given that the EU's stance on Israel's war on Gaza, including that of some of its member states, has not always been in support of Palestinians.

Shortly after October 7, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, posted on X that the EU “stands by Israel today and in the next weeks.”

Similarly, the Austrian Chancellor, Karl Nehammer, argued that Austria needs to fully support Israel as it protects Europe from terrorist attacks.

Germany echoed such sentiments, as its government has refrained from calling for a ceasefire in multiple UN meetings. It has also reiterated that Israel’s war on Gaza is considered “staatsraison” or “reason of state.” Additionally, the German government recently decided to support Israel in South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), charging the occupation with genocidal crimes.

Despite the extensive massacres, genocide, and destruction in Gaza, the EU, which represents the 27 member states, has not yet unanimously agreed to call for a ceasefire, despite pleas from countries such as Belgium, Ireland, and Spain.

24,448 Palestinians have been killed and 61,504 injured due to the Israeli aggression in Gaza since October 7, 2023, according to the Gazan Ministry of Health. 70 percent of the victims are women and children.

EU’s conditions for a ceasefire
While the passed resolution represents a dramatic shift in the EU's stance on the war on Gaza, the decision did not come without conditions.

The permanent ceasefire resolution was only approved after conservative legislators introduced an amendment insisting that Hamas be dismantled before a ceasefire could be declared and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.

"Sustainable peace cannot exist as long as Hamas and other groups hijack the Palestinian cause and threaten the existence of Israel, the only democracy in the region," said Antonio López-Istúriz, a member of the European Parliament.

This came after Egypt recently presented a draft proposing that Hamas relinquish power in exchange for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

However, Hamas rejected this proposal, according to Egyptian security sources, noting that officials from the movement publicly denied the matter.

The EU’s promise to support the Palestinian economy
On Thursday, EU officials met with the Palestinian minister of finance, Shukri Bishara, and the governor of the Palestinian Monetary Authority (PMA), Feras Melhem, to discuss the impact of the ongoing war in Gaza on the Palestinian economy.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Economy, the economy has suffered US$2.3 billion in losses since the beginning of the war on Gaza. The World Bank also recently warned that it expects the West Bank and Gaza economies to contract by 3.7 percent because of the war.

Israeli deductions of Palestinian tax revenues, which violate existing agreements and risk leading to the collapse of the PA, have compounded the financial problems facing the Palestinian economy.

Clearance revenues, which are import taxes that Israel collects on behalf of the PA, have evolved into a tool for political blackmail by succeeding Israeli governments. The PA relies heavily on the tax funds that Israel collects on its behalf to pay salaries and deliver public services. These revenues account for roughly 65 percent of the PA's budget.

'The EU is working with international partners to address this issue and find immediate solutions', EU officials said in a statement. “The EU and the European Investment Bank will continue to support the PMA's role in ensuring a resilient banking sector and providing crucial financing to businesses during these challenging times.”

This might prove difficult, however, since recently the US failed to persuade Israel to release the tax returns to the PA.

Russia’s stance
In a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, confirmed that Moscow will participate in the Security Council session next Monday and will present its proposals to resume collective work to solve the Palestinian issue and steer clear of any attempts to monopolize settlement efforts.

“Imposing plans on the Palestinians in the US administration offices will not succeed. The solution will only be achieved through the international quartet and the Arab League, but the US and Europe are obstructing that,” he said.

Lavrov added, “US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, stated that the US alone is capable of playing the role of mediator between the Palestinians and Israelis, and we know about these semi-secret contacts with some Arab countries. However, these contacts do not mean launching a direct dialogue between the Palestinians and Israelis.”

“Without a final solution to the Palestinian issue, the Palestinian people will remain under injustice, and it is necessary to establish the Palestinian state to end this conflict... I hope that the Israeli leadership will reach such a conclusion,” he stated.

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