De Croo among four EU PMs requesting 'serious debate' on Israel-Palestinian conflict
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez, Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar and Maltese prime minister Robert Abela have sent a letter to European Council president Charles Michel calling for a "serious debate" on the situation in the Gaza Strip during the upcoming European Council meeting on 14 and 15 December.
"Given the gravity of the situation and the risks of escalation in the West Bank and in the region, it is imperative that we hold a serious debate on the war at the next European Council on December 14 and 15," they said. "We call on your leadership to lead such a discussion, which should aim to reach agreement on a clear objective and a strong position of the European Union."
They added: “We reiterate our strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks committed by Hamas on October 7 and call for the immediate release of all hostages. We reiterate that Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with international law and standards. We welcome the humanitarian pause. But we have reached a point where the European Union must go further on three points."
"Immediate measures must be taken to protect innocent civilians"
The leaders who signed the document requested that "there must first and foremost be an urgent appeal to all parties to declare a lasting humanitarian ceasefire that can lead to an end to hostilities." Second, "immediate measures must be taken to protect innocent civilians", they continue, citing their "deep concern over the unbearable number of casualties in Gaza". Finally, "we must reiterate that there is an urgent need for a political process based on the implementation of a two-state solution."
"These are dark hours for millions of people in Palestine and Israel. Antisemitic incidents have resurfaced across Europe and cannot be tolerated. It is time for the European Union to act. Our credibility is at stake," they concluded.
With the Belgian presidency of the Council of the EU beginning in January, De Croo spoke on Friday about Belgium's priorities. In a joint press conference with Foreign minister Hadja Lahbib, De Croo pressed for safety and ending civilian casualties, noting that putting a stop to the violence and destruction in the conflict between Israel and Gaza "should be a priority for everyone".
© BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK