Brussels, Belgium – As Gaza is relentlessly bombed by Israel, greater than 800 EU officers have written to the bloc’s chief, Ursula von der Leyen, criticising her “uncontrolled” assist of Israel.
The signatories of the letter, which Al Jazeera has seen, say they “hardly recognise the values of the EU”, claiming there’s a “seeming indifference demonstrated over the previous few days by our establishment in the direction of the continuing bloodbath of civilians within the Gaza Strip, in disregard for human rights and worldwide humanitarian regulation”.
They are saying they’re saddened by the Fee’s “double requirements”, because it considers the blockade of Ukraine by Russia as an act of terror, whereas Israel’s blockade of Gaza is “utterly ignored”.
“If Israel doesn’t cease instantly, the entire Gaza Strip and its inhabitants will probably be erased from the planet,” the letter learn.
“We urge you [von der Leyen] to name, along with the leaders of the entire Union, for a ceasefire and for the safety of civilian life. That is on the core of the EU existence,” they stated, warning “the EU dangers shedding all credibility”.
The letter represents deep divisions inside the bloc on how you can strategy the Israel-Gaza struggle, which in lower than two weeks has killed hundreds of individuals.
The European Fee’s “current unlucky actions or positions appear to provide a free hand to the acceleration and the legitimacy of a struggle crime within the Gaza Strip”, the letter stated.
In Gaza, greater than 4,000 Palestinians have been killed, a lot of them kids.
“We might have been proud if the European Union … had known as for a right away cessation of hostilities and indiscriminate violence in opposition to civilians,” the letter learn.
The decision on von der Leyen follows different indicators of political friction within the West, with studies that US diplomats are making ready a “dissent cable” on the Center East struggle, a doc criticising Washington’s coverage that goes to State Division leaders.
The European Fee stated it was conscious of the letter and is able to interact with employees members and European residents to grasp their views.
“The President has stated on a number of events that ‘there is no such thing as a contradiction in standing in solidarity with Israel and performing on the humanitarian wants of the Palestinian individuals,’” a Fee spokesperson informed Al Jazeera.
“She has additionally stated, ‘There could be no hesitation on our [EU] facet: Europe will at all times be on the facet of humanity and of human rights.’”
An EU supply, who requested anonymity, informed Al Jazeera that the letter was unlikely to vary EU coverage, “but it surely reveals the rising divide between many employees members who wish to see worldwide regulation utilized throughout the globe”.
Von der Leyen, the European Fee president, is presently in america for an EU-US Summit.
“We stand for peace and prosperity. Supporting Ukraine in its combat for freedom. Standing by Israel and addressing humanitarian wants within the area,” she stated on Thursday.
‘They thought it might be a Ukraine second’
A second EU supply informed Al Jazeera that dissent is rising as a result of von der Leyen’s workforce “seems to have utterly misinterpret the scenario”.
“They – her and her closest advisers – thought that this [Israel-Hamas war] can be a Ukraine second, and so they should condemn the terrorists and win the ethical argument. However I feel they’ve simply been purely unaware of the dimensions of oppression Palestinians have skilled, and the widespread understanding of the battle as this being a violent response to occupation,” the official informed Al Jazeera.
Good assembly along with @CharlesMichel with a bipartisan delegation from the US Senate.
The transatlantic partnership is powerful!
And extra wanted than ever in turbulent occasions.
We stand for peace and prosperity.
Supporting Ukraine in its combat for freedom.
Standing by… pic.twitter.com/2EsMMX42hJ
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 19, 2023
Von der Leyen is “nonetheless morally battling how you can take a stance”, the official stated, including that her place from now could be more likely to rely on diplomatic efforts “on the worldwide scale and what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says”.
“[Her] workforce are attempting to regulate their line and acknowledge that they misinterpret the scenario. They’re making an attempt to jot down a story the place they will nonetheless be seen as staunch allies of Israel, but additionally as a diplomatic pressure within the area, whereas making an attempt to keep up some degree of credibility vis a vis the struggle Ukraine,” the official stated.
“However on this case, it appears to be like just like the People would be the adults within the room,” the official added.
Just a few streets away from the European Fee, an analogous sense of anger has been brewing amongst some staffers on the European Parliament, led by Roberta Metsola.
“To see two of the three presidents [von der Leyen and Metsola] all of the sudden in Israel, standing shoulder to shoulder with a regime which is killing civilians was fairly surprising,” a Parliament official, who requested anonymity, informed Al Jazeera.
“How has Macklemore taken a extra humane stance than the European Fee?” they stated, referring to the American rapper and singer who has known as for a “ceasefire in Israel” and likewise a “Free Palestine”.
In the meantime, the EU’s high diplomat, Josep Borrell, has gained reward amongst some staffers who assume he has a extra nuanced stance in the direction of the present scenario in Gaza; all through the most recent struggle, he has commonly known as for each the discharge of Israeli hostages in Gaza and for help to be hurried into the besieged strip on brink of collapse.
Kristina Kausch, a Madrid-based senior fellow on the German Marshall Fund of america, stated “inconsistencies” present a glimpse into the “deep splits inside the EU on this battle”.
Over the previous decade, she added, on the Israel-Palestine crises, the 27 nations of the bloc “have barely managed to place out any widespread statements”.
Because of this, EU coverage on the Israel-Palestine file, a key benchmark for the EU’s effectiveness as a worldwide actor, “has been helplessly stalled”, she stated.
On Thursday, on the European Parliament headquarters in Strasbourg, members adopted a decision calling for a “humanitarian pause” within the newest Israel-Gaza struggle.
However officers informed Al Jazeera of extra divisions – reminiscent of debates over whether or not “ceasefire” or “pause” must be used for the decision.
One official identified that the decision made no point out of the Israeli occupation or the blockade on Gaza.
A fourth EU official Al Jazeera spoke to described a tense environment throughout the establishment, with many feeling ashamed to work for the bloc.
“For my technology of employees, ‘By no means Once more’ really means one thing,” they stated. “We keep in mind 9/11 and many people protested the struggle in Iraq. So I feel lots of people had been horrified when von der Leyen and Metsola appeared to supply a carte blanche to Israel, apparently in our title. It feels just like the house to specific solidarity with Palestinians is shrinking.
“The conflation of Jewish individuals and the state of Israel can also be an issue … The shortage of variety of each Jewish and Muslim individuals working for the EU doesn’t assist.”