De Croo: 'Israel must make more efforts to avoid civilian casualties'
Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez, met Israeli president Yitzhak Herzog and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday morning. De Croo's message was that Israel needs to make more efforts to reduce the number of civilian casualties in Gaza. He also advocated for opening an additional border crossing with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to enter.
According to De Croo, the conversation with Netanyahu was "open but also confronting". "But we are not here just to bring each other good news," he said after the meeting at the Israeli parliament, the Knesset. Netanyahu did not appear before the Belgian and Spanish press who had assembled.
"We do not want another 10,000 deaths"
De Croo emphasised to Netanyahu that the number of civilian casualties in Gaza is too high, and Israel must make more efforts to avoid them. He sees the declared but not yet implemented temporary ceasefire as an opportunity to initiate the peace process, even though Netanyahu recently insisted that the war is not over.
"We do not want another 10,000 deaths. This is an important moment," De Croo said. "Let this not be yet another missed opportunity in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process."
De Croo also advocated for an additional border crossing for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. The Rafah bordering crossing with Egypt is currently the only place for aid to enter.
Sanchez and De Croo left on Wednesday night for the next stage of their two-day visit to the Middle East. On Thursday afternoon, they will visit Be'eri, the kibbutz along the border with the Gaza Strip that Hamas attacked on 7 October, followed by a meeting with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on the West Bank.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Belgian prime minister Alexander de Croo © PHOTO BELGA / EUROPA PRESS