Josep Borrell, in Israel: “One horror does not justify another; do not let anger consume you” | International

Josep Borrell, in Israel: “One horror does not justify another;
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Josep Borrell offered this Thursday in Israel the most critical message expressed so far by a representative of the European Union against the response given to the Hamas attack on October 7. “Gaza is not far from here. One horror does not justify another," the head of European diplomacy warned in a statement to the press together with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, with whom he had just toured the Beeri kibbutz, near the Strip, where Palestinian militiamen They killed or kidnapped dozens of people that day. “I understand your fears and pain,” he said. “I understand your anger. But let me ask you not to be consumed by anger. I think that is what the best friends of Israel can tell you, because what differentiates a civilized society from a terrorist group is respect for human life. All lives are worth the same,” added the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security. At his side, Cohen, who was listening seriously, had just pointed out that Hamas was “solely responsible” for both the 1,200 deaths from its attack and the more than 11,000 deaths caused in Gaza by the Israeli bombings in response to that episode.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs has a personal connection with the place (and with the kibbutz themselves) which he highlighted at the beginning of his speech. “I know what a kibbutz means to Israelis,” he said before recalling that, in 1969, he spent a summer volunteering at one out of a desire to “contribute to the spirit of hope, peace and solidarity” that they represent. “So I understand what the kibbutz family feels when their sons, fathers or daughters are kidnapped,” he argued of the around 240 hostages in Gaza, mainly held by Hamas. That own experience helped him make clear the place from which he exhorts Israel to, first of all, implement humanitarian “pauses” (as requested by the EU and as the United Nations Security Council has just done) and, “in a certain moment”, to definitively put an end to hostilities.

The kibbutzim, cooperative farms that emerged within the framework of the Zionist movement, were inspired by socialism and, for this reason, half a century ago they attracted volunteers from other parts of the world. There she got married for the first time, Borrell said after pointing out her pride in how one of her children speaks Hebrew.

Josep Borrell, during the visit to the Beeri kibbutz, this Thursday. Alvaro Garcia

With these personal ingredients, Borrell has insisted that “nothing justifies what the Hamas terrorists did,” on Israel's right to defend itself and that Hamas “must be defeated.” But he also clarified that "Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people" and recalled that Israel must act "in line with international law and, in particular, international humanitarian law" and that "innocent civilians, including thousands, have died in recent weeks." children's". “It is one thing to defend Israel and another to take care of people who need it. And, for this reason, the European Union, in addition to supporting Israel's right to defend itself, is also calling for [que Israel permita la entrada en Gaza de] humanitarian aid, food, water, fuel, protection.”

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To defend the need for a peace agreement with the Palestinians, one of his main proposals to alleviate the conflict, Borrell has also alluded to how not even the Israeli military fortress and the barrier around Gaza, in which Israel invested more than 2 billion euros, they were able to prevent the surprise attack by Hamas. “We have seen how walls, technology and soldiers are not enough to make Israel safe.” […] Security can only come from peace,” said Borrell, who listened carefully in the kibbutz to the stories of Israelis who lived through the attack on October 7. Cohen has also shown him photographs of dead bodies.

View of Kibbutz Beeri, this Thursday.
View of Kibbutz Beeri, this Thursday.Alvaro Garcia

The visit of the high representative has two symbolic elements. The first, occur. It is his first trip to Israel since he took office in 2019. Israeli diplomacy unofficially vetoed Borrell by accusing him of partiality in the conflict with the Palestinians and, in the midst of controversy over the judicial reform of the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu, also of “interfering in internal affairs. In May, an in-person meeting in Brussels with Cohen softened the mood, and a date was set for the visit, which the war forced to cancel.

The second important aspect is that the trip includes the West Bank city of Ramallah, where he will meet this Friday with the Palestinian president, Mahmud Abbas; his Prime Minister, Mohamed Shtaye; and the head of Foreign Affairs, Riad Al Malki. He will be the first EU representative to set foot in the West Bank since the day of the attack. Neither the president of the European Commission, Ursula von Der Leyen, nor the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, did so.

Although more than a month has passed, Borrell will meet with the Palestinian leadership with the underlying discomfort caused by Von der Leyen's defense of Israel, and the unilateral decision of the Enlargement Commissioner, Oliver Varhelyi, to temporarily suspend aid to development for Palestine, reversed after protests from several Member States. On the 18th, in a speech before the European Parliament, Borrell already made it clear that being able to visit Ramallah was a “fundamental condition” for traveling to Israel. “If I visit Israel, I must also be able to visit Ramallah. Unfortunately, the emotion of the moment, of the days we have lived, has prevented it from going,” he assured. Borrell's tour, which will conclude next Monday, also includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, some of the countries with the capacity to interlocute in the conflict.

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