Sánchez speaks with Netanyahu and asks for a humanitarian ceasefire so that aid reaches Gaza | International

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The acting president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, in the middle of the Spanish presidency of the European Council, called this Sunday his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, to convey, on the one hand, support and condemnation for the “terrorist attacks” by Hamas, but at the same time to convey directly his “deep concern for the protection of all civilians”, including those in Gaza who are suffering from Israeli bombings. He also demands that Israel accept a “humanitarian ceasefire” and allow more aid into the Strip.

Sánchez made this call after meeting the leader of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmud Abbas, on Saturday in Egypt. Both participated in a summit in Cairo to seek solutions to the crisis. Sectors of the opposition had criticized Sánchez for meeting Abbas but not calling Netanyahu. That telephone conversation is the first contact between the two since the outbreak of war after the largest massacre of Israeli civilians perpetrated by Hamas on the 7th.

The issue of the war in Gaza has entered the Spanish political debate and the PP accused Sánchez of being too close to the Palestinians and forgetting about Israel. Sánchez's position from day one is the one he has conveyed to Netanyahu: unmitigated, outright condemnation of the “terrorist attack by Hamas” and vindication of Israel's right to defend itself, but within certain limits: “Respect for international law and international humanitarian law”, which rules out bombings on civilians and very clearly the cutting of supplies, water, electricity, food and the rejection of the entry of humanitarian aid.

However, the position of some ministers, especially Ione Belarra, from Podemos, who spoke of Israel's "genocide" against the Palestinians, led to a diplomatic crisis between the two countries when the Israeli embassy in Spain made a very harsh statement in which accused the Spanish Government of colluding with Hamas and encouraging anti-Semitism. The response from La Moncloa was emphatic and Foreign Affairs made a very harsh statement criticizing the embassy's text as unacceptable, which it considered an “unfriendly fact.” The incident was considered resolved by Spain with this response statement and relations are maintained. So much so that the two leaders were able to speak a few days later.

Precisely this Sunday, US President Joe Biden also called Netanyahu. The American leader traveled to Tel Aviv last week, something that Sánchez has not yet done but other European leaders such as the German Olaf Scholz have done. With this call, the Spanish president wants to make it clear that he is very much on top of the crisis, that he wants to play his role as leader of the country that holds the presidency of the European Council, and clear up criticism from the opposition that accuses him of being more close to one side of the conflict.

The message that Sánchez has conveyed to Netanyahu, according to what the Spanish president himself has said on social networks, clearly shows that intermediate position of rejection of Hamas and solidarity with Israel but also support for the Palestinian population in Gaza that is suffering from the bombings. and a warning to Israel that it must respect the rules of war and international law. “I have reiterated to Prime Minister Netanyahu my solidarity with the families of the victims. The hostages must be released immediately and unconditionally. Likewise, I have conveyed to you my deep concern for the protection of all civilians and the need for humanitarian aid to reach the population of Gaza in a sufficient and sustained manner. For this, a humanitarian ceasefire is necessary. We must prevent the conflict from spreading to the rest of the region. We must address a definitive solution for peace, based on the solution of two States, Israel and Palestine, that coexist in peace and security,” says Sánchez.

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The day before, at the summit in Egypt, Sánchez had conveyed a message similar to the one he sent in person to Netanyahu. Sánchez declared there that the priorities must be to protect civilians and guarantee their access to humanitarian aid, free the hostages held by Hamas, and prevent the conflict from expanding in the region, and called for working towards a two-state solution. . Other European delegations also focused on the humanitarian issue and respect for international law. At the meeting with Abbas, according to Sánchez, the Spaniard conveyed to him the “support and solidarity” of the Spanish people “with the suffering of the population in Gaza.” “Spain will increase humanitarian aid and cooperation to Palestine,” he promised.

This Monday, as a way of confirming his interest in this conflict and his desire to listen to both parties and be sensitive to all positions, Sánchez organized two meetings in La Moncloa. First one, at 9:30, with “representatives of the Jewish community,” and then another, at 10:30, with “representatives of the Muslim community.” The second is much more numerous in Spain than the first, but both have a long tradition and political influence. At the meetings will be the Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, who is also in charge of relations with the different religions present in the country.

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