EU summit: Member states fail to find common ground on Gaza ceasefire
Despite calls from several member states, including Belgium, the EU failed to reach a unanimous decision to call for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza during its two-day summit in Brussels. Support for the proposal seemed to be rising, given that only two European countries voted against the recent UN resolution calling for a ceasefire.
Earlier this week, Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo, along with his Spanish, Irish and Maltese counterparts, sent a letter to European Council president Charles Michel calling for a "serious debate" on the situation in Gaza during the summit on 14 and 15 December.
In the letter, the signatories called for "a durable humanitarian ceasefire that can lead to an end to hostilities". They also called for "immediate measures to protect innocent civilians", expressed "deep concern at the intolerable number of casualties in Gaza" and reiterated "the urgent need for a political process based on the implementation of a two-state solution".
The idea appeared to be gaining popularity among EU member states. Most European countries on Tuesday backed the UN resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Germany, Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands abstained, and only Austria and the Czech Republic voted against.
But European leaders left Brussels without a consensus on a tougher stance against Israel. In a press conference after the summit, Michel said the leaders had consolidated their common position and focused on discussing peaceful two-state solutions, Euronews writes.
"I don't want to say more than Charles Michel, who represents the voice of all the member states. You all know what the position of the Spanish government is," Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said.
The EU is looking at other ways to discourage violence against Palestinians. On Monday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell proposed sanctions against violent Jewish settlers in the West Bank, including travel bans to Europe. Just as with the call for a ceasefire, those sanctions will also require unanimous approval by member states.
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and prime minister of Bulgaria Nikolai Denkov talks to the press ahead of the summit in Brussels © BELGA PHOTO NICOLAS MAETERLINCK