30th Mar 2023


Israel-Palestine and travel certificates in focus This WEEK

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said EU ministers on Tuesday "will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence" (Photo:

Escalating Israeli-Palestinian violence will be on everyone's mind as the week kicks off after a long weekend break in the EU bubble.

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza destroyed several homes on Sunday (16 May), killing 42 Palestinians, including 10 children, health officials said, as militants fired rockets at Israel on the seventh day of fighting.

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The Israeli military said the civilian casualties were unintentional, as its jets attacked a tunnel system used by militants, which collapsed, bringing the homes down. Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, called it "pre-meditated killing", according to Reuters.

An Israeli airstrike on Saturday also destroyed a 12-storey building where the Associated Press and the Al Jazeera television network had offices in Gaza.

The UN Security Council convened on Sunday (16 May) to discuss the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence in years.

Last Friday, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen issued a tweet, saying: "Very concerned by the situation in Israel and Gaza. I condemn indiscriminate attacks by Hamas on Israel. Civilians on all sides must be protected. Violence must end now."

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell convened a special meeting of EU foreign ministers online for Tuesday (18 May) to discuss the issue.

"We will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence," Borrell said, pointing to the "unacceptable number of civilian casualties".

On Tuesday, MEPs will also discuss the recent violence between Israel and Palestine.

Certificate talks

Meanwhile, negotiators from the three EU institutions, the parliament, the council of member states, and the EU Commission will push for an agreement this week on the Covid-19 travel certificate so that safe travel can pick up during the summer as more people are vaccinated and restrictive measures are eased across the continent.

Negotiators will meet on Tuesday to find an agreement on the legislation that establishes the certificate that prove that the carrier has been vaccinated, has a negative test result, or has recovered from Covid-19.

On Wednesday, the parliament will debate a proposal to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19, a move backed by US president Joe Biden.

European politicians, including MEPs, have been hesitant about the patent waiver, arguing that the lack of vaccines is not due to a lack of knowledge but inadequate production capacity.

MEPs have been calling on the US to lift its export ban on vaccines instead of pushing for a patent waiver.

Climate help

MEPs are set to adopt on Tuesday the €17.5 billion fund to help EU countries make the green economic transformation less costly.

The Just Transition Fund will focus on least-developed regions, outermost territories, and islands. Committing to climate neutrality by 2050 will be a condition for financial support.

Turkey report

On Tuesday, MEPs will debate and then vote on Wednesday on the EU commission reports which take stock of the progress in EU-Turkey relations in 2019 and 2020.

MEPs are expected to criticise the Turkish government for distancing itself from EU values and standards.

Some MEPs argue that accession talks with Turkey must be formally suspended if Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to violate the territorial integrity of Greece and Cyprus, and move away from the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

Czech concerns

The conflict-of-interest case of Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš will also be on the agenda of the parliament.

On Wednesday, MEPs we will want to hear from the commission and the council how it wants to deal with the Czech administration's failure to prevent him from abusing checks and balances.

Babiš is suspected of a clash of interest as the owner of the Agrofert food, chemicals, and media-holding that received EU subsidies. He denies wrongdoing.

EU trade and foreign affairs minister on Thursday will discuss the reform of the WTO and focus on EU-US trade relations. They will also take stock of the EU-Mercosur agreement.

On Monday, EU affairs ministers will meet in Lisbon informally.

Blinken up north

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will travel to Greenland on Thursday (20 May) and meet with top Greenlandic and Danish officials.

The move comes nearly a year after the US opened a consulate in Greenland's capital, Nuuk, for the first time since the 1950s. US interest in Greenland continues to grow, as it seeks to secure access to rare minerals and maintain a military presence there.


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