The European Union appears powerless to stop the violence and the deadly conflict that has erupted in Gaza. As the Gaza death toll mounts given Europe’s role as Israel’s top trade partner and the biggest aid donor to the Palestinians, the EU should be able to exercise more influence and use its economic weight to put pressure on the belligerents.

For the record, the European Union (EU) has long been one of the most reliable foreign sources of humanitarian, economic and political aid to Palestinians , providing € 426 million in 2013 of which € 168 million was Direct Financial Support to the Palestine Authority under the so-called PEGASE-mechanism. PEGASE helps the PA to meet its recurrent expenses through paying salaries, pensions and social allowances to people in extreme poverty, and through supporting essential public services and revitalizing the private sector through policy reforms, institution-building and strengthening the relations between Palestinian enterprises and European counterparts. In addition to the direct financial support, humanitarian aid is provided through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), which spent € 35 million in 2013 on areas such as humanitarian coordination, legal assistance and emergency response to demolitions and evictions.

Every day of ineffective actions means further victims. Every single day of shameful silence causes sufferings and destruction. What else is the EU waiting for? The EU must behave as a serious political actor by calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and then lead a comprehensive peace conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There can be no excuse for the lack of an EU political initiative.

The EU should support all international and regional efforts aimed to stop the on-going violence in the Gaza Strip and in Israel. The continued firing of rockets by Palestinian militants into Israel is not acceptable, but neither is the disproportionate use of force by the Israeli army in Gaza : an estimated 70 per cent of the more than 1000 Palestinian victims are civilians, including many children – and the EU should call for an end to this military operation through the de-escalation of the conflict.

The longer we wait, the less room there is to achieve a rapid ceasefire and a final appeasement of this bloody conflict based on the two-state solution – with 1967 borders and Jerusalem as capital of both states – with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace and security.

The nearly 1.7 million people living in Gaza have been subjected to an inhuman siege. They are unable to leave the Gaza Strip, the entry of all goods, including food and medicine is controlled, and their only crime is to have been born in that area. If the EU is serious about defending freedom and dignity for all people throughout the world, then why it is not making its voice heard? Enough of the political pandering. The EU must act now to stop the killing of more innocent civilians, on both sides of the conflict.

Gaza is only 4 hours away from Brussels and what is happening right now is in the EU’s backyard. By turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering in the West Bank and Gaza, the EU is committing a crime of silence.


Add new comment