The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said that the bloc needs to address what he called its double standards when it comes to the Israel-Hamas war.
Borrell was in Luxembourg where the Members States’ foreign ministers were gathering to try to deal with the raft of crises on the EU’s borders, including the ongoing war in Ukraine and the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia
The situation in Israel and the Gaza strip was top of the agenda.
“The issue of double standards already was there before the war in Gaza, and now it comes again,” Borrell said, responding to journalist who asked if the EU’s credibility was at risk in the “battle of narratives with the Global South”.
Many have called it hypocritical that the EU has declared Russian attacks on Ukrainian civilians to be war crimes, yet Israeli attacks on civilians on Gaza are not condemned likewise.
Speaking to the press, Borrell trod a fine line on the conflict.
“We have to be very … careful in order to show the same concern for every civilian killed”, he said.
On the one hand, he said the EU must show its “strong support for Israel, because [Hamas] have been supporting one of the biggest attacks against the Jewish people”.
On the other, he said the bloc must also consider “the innocent Palestinians being killed, they are also victims of Hamas”, condemning the Palestinian Islamist organisation that rules the densely populated Gaza Strip,
Borrell’s comments come as many divisions are emerging throughout the EU over the war in the Middle East.
Shortly after the Hamas attack on Israel that killed thousands of Israeli civilians and resulted in the kidnapping of hundreds of others, the European Commission and its President Ursula von der Leyen rallied behind support for Israel.
Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi even went so far as announce that EU aid to the Palestinian Territories was to be cut. That decision was reversed after it met with strong pushback from several Member States including Ireland, Spain and Portugal.
The European Union has abandoned plans to stop sending aid to Palestine after a backlash within the bloc. https://t.co/tzjlakTPhp
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 10, 2023
The EU has now tripled the amount of aid it is sending to the Gaza Strip despite some MEPs and news outlets claiming out such funds are being misused by Hamas.
Examples pointed to include EU-funded Palestinian textbooks that seemed to glorify terrorists, while UK national daily The Telegraph revealed EU-funded water-pipelines were being used by Hamas to make rockets.
At the same time, a visit by Von der Leyen and the European Parliament President Roberta Metsola came under fire for what critics said was their taking sides in the conflict.
Speaking to the press, Borrell seemed keen to get the EU to push for a temporary ceasefire, which he called a “humanitarian pause”, to allow supplies to be sent into the Gaza Strip and allow civilians to be evacuated.
He did not seem sure that the national governments’ would support the idea.
“I cannot anticipate the result of the meeting,” Borrell said.