War The EU resigns itself to calling for a "humanitarian pause" and not a "ceasefire" in Gaza

Neither ceasefire, nor end of hostilities

War The EU resigns itself to calling for a "humanitarian pause" and not a "ceasefire" in Gaza

Neither ceasefire, nor end of hostilities. What the EU is starting to say, and what it will probably ask for at the highest level this week, is a "humanitarian pause." In the Israeli bombings on Gaza, in the launching of rockets from the Strip to the south of Israel, so that the release of the hostages can materialize and so that humanitarian aid can enter, which if it was important before is now irreplaceable for survival of hundreds of thousands of people.

The expression "humanitarian pause", used last week in a European Parliament resolution, is the only one on which there seems to be "a basic consensus" right now in Brussels. Then it was criticized because it fell short (deputies from the left voted against it precisely for that reason) but now it seems the only firm ground. Countries like Spain and Ireland are openly in favor of a "ceasefire", and their foreign ministers in Luxembourg have asked for it this Monday. But not even the "humanitarian ceasefire" formula, proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres (but not supported by a formal resolution), convinces in all capitals, who believe it is going too far.

They would undoubtedly prefer that the violence end, but many, including the most important, believe that it is not appropriate to demand it, since it would be an interference in Israel's right to self-defense, to which according to everyone it is entitled. So they are not going to go further for the moment, just as the US did not allow even the mention of a pause at the UN. The Italian minister Antonio Tajani sums it up well: "We support humanitarian pauses to send supplies, but a truce is something else. The truce cannot mean that Israel gives up its self-defense," explained the head of Forza Italia.

"Personally I think that a humanitarian pause is necessary to allow humanitarian delivery and distribution in Gaza," the high representative for Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, said this Monday, emphasizing that "half" of the population in the Strip has had to leave their homes or cities in the last week. The key word in that sentence, and in the rest of the ones he has uttered, is "personally." Borrell wants a truce, an immediate ceasefire, but he is the spokesperson for the 27 on Foreign Affairs and Security and knows that there is no common position on the matter. So he can go around it, define the terms vaguely, insist on "concern for murdered civilians," but without going much further.

"In Cairo there was a lot of talk about the need to stop the violence and think about the civilian victims. The ceasefire is more than a pause, much more. A pause is just that, an interruption of something that then continues. It is a less ambitious objective than a ceasefire, which is an agreement between the parties. A pause can be agreed upon more quickly and I believe that this is what the ministers have understood," the veteran Spanish politician admitted with resignation.

On Thursday, the heads of state and government of the 27 will meet in Brussels for a summit dedicated mainly to international issues. In the document of conclusions that is being negotiated, and which may change between now and Friday, it starts with Ukraine, with no less than 11 points, reiterating support for the country and trying to maintain attention, help and pressure. on Russia, aware that the eyes of the world have shifted to the Middle East. "Ukraine has disappeared from the news but not from reality," said the high representative at the end of the meeting.

After Ukraine, the document addresses the situation in Israel and Gaza with a specific message. "The European Council supports the call of the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, for a humanitarian pause to allow safe humanitarian access so that aid reaches those who need it," says point 15 of the draft that the ambassadors are now negotiating. and Sherpas despite the fact that the aforementioned request is for a ceasefire. "The European Union will work closely with its partners in the region to protect civilians, support those trying to reach safety or provide assistance and facilitate access to food, water, healthcare, fuel and shelter. The European Council reiterates the need of the immediate release of all hostages without any preconditions," the text says.

The acting president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, called Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to convey, on the one hand, support and condemnation for the Hamas terrorist attacks, but also to ask for a "humanitarian ceasefire", a hybrid formula, and to urge him to allow the entry of more humanitarian aid urgently.

The provisional conclusions emphasize that the only possible solution is through a two-state solution, and applaud Egypt's initiative over the weekend to hold an "inclusive peace conference", however complicated it may seem. "We have to talk about the political process, because the peace process has been forgotten or put aside for too long (...) The priority now is to get humanitarian aid into Gaza. We have increased support but there are queues and queues of trucks waiting to enter. They must be able to do so. It is urgent that we can send the most basic things and that the supply of running water and electricity be restored," said Borrell, without a doubt the figure who has raised his voice the most since the first day. Both to categorically condemn the massacre perpetrated by Hamas and to demand respect for international law from Israel in its response.

Madrid and Dublin do ask for more. "The suffering of innocent civilians, especially children, is on a scale that, in our opinion, requires an immediate cessation and the provision on an accelerated and full scale of water, food and medical supplies," he said upon arrival at a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Luxembourg the Irishman Micheál Martin. "We understand Israel's need to deal with Hamas because it was a heinous attack, but the degree of suffering that innocent civilians in Gaza are now suffering is simply not acceptable. That is why we believe that a humanitarian pause is required to, as minimum, bring help and supplies there," he noted.

"It is time for a ceasefire, it is time to stop this violence and when the violence in Gaza and Israel stops, which is the main objective, and prevent the extension of the conflict, we have to look further and the real solution is a State Palestinian recognized by the international community," agreed the Spaniard José Manuel Albares. However, others such as the Czech minister or the Italian himself have stressed that after the massacre suffered, Israel's defense strategy cannot be interfered with. You can tell them containment, respect for legality or a short interruption for the entry of trucks, but no more. Not for now.