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28th Feb 2024

Israel losing EU support on Gaza war, UN vote shows

  • UN headquarters in New York saw Israel lose EU support (Photo: United Nations Photo)
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EU and wider global support for Israel has sharply eroded over the past two months of horrors in the Gaza war, a UN vote has shown.

A majority of 17 out of 27 EU countries backed a UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution in New York calling for "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza on Tuesday (12 December), while two voted against, and eight abstained.

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  • Only nine out of the UN's 193 member states backed Israel in voting no on Tuesday (Photo: tomdz)

This compared to eight EU countries in favour, four against, and 15 abstentions when the UNGA voted on a similar ceasefire resolution on 27 October.

The eight former EU-abstainers who went over to the yes-side on Tuesday were: Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Poland, and Sweden (despite having a rightwing government in Stockholm).

Croatia jumped from no to yes.

Hungary, formerly Israel's staunchest EU ally, abstained instead of voting no, as previously.

Overall, the UNGA resolution passed by 153 votes in favour, 10 against, and 23 abstentions.

This compared to 120 in favour, 14 against, and 45 abstentions last time round.

The shift meant more than three-quarters of the UN's 193 members were now against continuing the war.

And it left Israel in a tiny minority, with only three Western countries — the US, Austria, and the Czech Republic — still saying it was acceptable to prolong the conflict.

Israel's other backers were: Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Papua New Guinea, and Paraguay.

And even US president, Joe Biden, warned that Israel's tactics meant it risked losing the EU.

"Israel's security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe," he said in the margins of an event in Washington on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

"But they're starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place," he said.

Israel has killed at least 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, 70 percent of them women and children, and displaced 1.9 million people, according to UN and EU-cited figures.

Palestinian group Hamas, which rules Gaza, killed some 1,200 Israelis and captured 240 hostages on 7 October.

Biden's accusation of "indiscriminate bombing" by Israel comes on top of increasing EU calls that Israel is violating the laws of modern warfare, the Geneva Conventions, by its disproportionate response, collective punishment, and forced displacement of Palestinians.

Israel's UN ambassador, Gilad Erdan, said Israel won't stop until it destroys Hamas.

"A ceasefire means one thing and one thing only — ensuring the survival of Hamas, ensuring the survival of genocidal terrorists committed to the annihilation of Israel and Jews," he said in New York on Tuesday.

But even so, Israel's EU and Nato ambassador, Haim Regev, admitted to EUobserver on 30 November in Brussels that Israel could be doing more to minimise civilian deaths.

"Gaza is one big military base — they [Hamas] use every single place to hide rockets, explosives, so what do you want us to go [sic], surgery? To risk our soldiers?", Regev said.

The UNGA resolution, which was drafted by Egypt, also called for "the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access".

The US ambassador to the UN said it was unacceptable because it didn't condemn Hamas.

Austria's UN ambassador, Alexander Marschik, also said: "This resolution falls short in many ways, including the right of Israel to ensure its citizens are safe and naming the terrorist group in taking of hostages".

Tuesday's UN vote came ahead of an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, where leaders will discuss imposing visa-bans on violent Israeli settlers in the West Bank, in a further blow to Israel's image.

Some 13 EU countries have explicitly backed the move, diplomatic sources said.

And not even the Austrian, Czech, or Hungarian foreign ministers said a word against it during initial talks in Brussels on Monday, EU diplomats said.

Meanwhile, Regev, Israel's EU ambassador, also previously told EUobserver: "I feel safer for my kids to live in Israel than in Europe".

"Absolutely, because we have a strong military. We're not perfect, we know that, but we have a strong military and what happened [on 7 October] will never happen again," he said.

Opinion

For Ukraine's sake, pass the EU due diligence directive

The EU Commission's 2022 CSDDD proposal did not include provisions incorporating "conflict due diligence", they were added, after the Russian invasion, by the European Parliament and Council into the final directive text — for Ukraine's sake, vote for it.

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