European Union leaders appeared to give Israel “carte blanche” to commit alleged human rights crimes in Gaza in the wake of this month’s terror attacks by Hamas, Ireland’s Prime Minister said.
Speaking to the country’s state-owned media, Leo Varadkar backed recent statements made by Ireland’s ceremonial President Michael Higgins lambasting the EU’s response to the conflict.
“Some of what he has said has not been hugely far off the mark,” Varadkar said.
“I took the view as well that the initial response from quite a number of European leaders in the days after the Hamas attack on Israel almost appeared to give Israel carte blanche.”
Varadkar criticised the messaging of EU chiefs as not being “tempered” by any calls for restraint or for Israel to respect international law.
"This was certainly a knee-jerk reaction, badly thought out, and it's something that we should insist does not happen," Irish MEP @BillyKelleherEU tells Brussels Signal amid calls to suspend aid to Palestine.
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 13, 2023
He also dismissed criticism of Higgins, describing him as representing Ireland “exceptionally well” on the international stage.
Higgins found himself in the international limelight on October 17 after lashing out at European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, accusing her of overstepping her remit by constantly backing Israel.
“I don’t know where the source of those decisions was,” he said. “I don’t know where the legitimation for it was and I don’t know where the authority for it is and I don’t think it was helpful.”
He also assured the media that Von der Leyen “wasn’t speaking for Ireland” when she voiced support for Israel, a sentiment that appears to be reflected across Ireland’s political class.
At least nine of Ireland’s 13 MEPs have criticised the Von der Leyen for her response to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
“Sadly, her comments have clearly given cover for Israel to ignore their responsibilities under the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law,” said Renew group MEP Billy Kelleher.
Adding that was “something no EU leader should be doing”, he warned that Von der Leyen’s “position will become untenable” if she continues to unilaterally take stances on foreign policy.
Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, still has his eye on the position of European Commission President, insiders have claimed. https://t.co/oweLE52BLq
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 2, 2023