Spain and Ireland Urge European Commission for Stronger Action Against Gaza Crisis

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In a unified stance against the ongoing crisis in Gaza, Spain and Ireland have jointly appealed to Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, urging decisive action against Israel’s blockade and human rights violations in the region. As the Israeli army prepares for an offensive in Rafah, southern Gaza, where countless Palestinians seek refuge amidst escalating violence, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar have formally communicated their concerns in a letter to Von der Leyen. This letter, exclusively obtained by Geneva Council, underscores the urgent need for a review of the European Union’s association agreement with Israel, citing potential breaches of international law.

Highlighting the fundamental principles of human rights and democratic values embedded within the EU-Israel association agreement, the letter urges the European Commission to propose appropriate measures in the event of identified violations. Sánchez and Varadkar have requested the Community Executive to provide an expert opinion for presentation to the European Council, emphasizing the possibility of suspending clauses or enacting comprehensive measures should Israel fail to adhere to its obligations under the agreement.

The letter also underscores the International Court of Justice’s directive for Israel to promptly implement effective measures ensuring the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza. Sánchez and Varadkar emphasize the binding nature of these directives, expressing grave concerns about the heightened risk of a humanitarian catastrophe due to the looming threat of Israeli military operations in Rafah.

According to the document shared, the crisis in Gaza has resulted in staggering casualties, with nearly 28,000 Palestinians killed, over 67,000 injured, and 1.9 million people—equivalent to 85% of the population—displaced within Gaza due to the relentless attacks. Extensive destruction of homes and critical civil infrastructure, including hospitals, underscores the urgent need for humanitarian assistance.

Pedro Sánchez, known for his outspoken criticism of Israel’s policies in Gaza, has been actively advocating for a peaceful resolution since the onset of the Israeli offensive in response to Hamas attacks in October 2023. At the recent European Council summit, Sánchez joined forces with Ireland, Belgium, and Luxembourg in calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. However, his diplomatic efforts have not been without controversy, as evidenced by the sharp rebuke from the Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu following his visit to the Middle East alongside Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo.

In the face of ongoing challenges, Ireland and Spain are once again pressing for a humanitarian ceasefire. Nevertheless, divisions within the EU on the issue remain evident, with Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic opposing such calls in recent discussions, resulting in the EU’s limited request for “humanitarian pauses.”

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