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EU foreign ministers press Israel on eventual two-state solution

The 27 EU ministers met with diplomats from Israel and Palestine.


EU FOREIGN MINISTERS have pressed Israel on an eventual two-state solution with the Palestinians after the war in Gaza at meetings with the top diplomats from the two sides and key Arab states in Brussels.

The 27 EU ministers met with Israel’s foreign minister Israel Katz before sitting down separately with the Palestinian Authority’s top diplomat, Riyad al-Maliki.

The foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia also held talks with the European ministers.

Meanwhile, the relatives hostages in Gaza, who were captured by Hamas on 7 October, have stormed an Israeli parliament committee hearing today.

EU talks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and defied key backer the United States by rejecting calls for a Palestinian state.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell insisted the immediate “priority is to provide support to the people” facing a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

“More death, more destruction, more hardship for the Gaza people, for the Palestinian people, will not help to defeat Hamas or the ideology,” he said. “It will not bring more security to Israel on the contrary.”

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz ignored questions from journalists over a future two-state solution and said the country was focused on returning the hostages and ensuring its own security.

Borrell said the Israeli minister “could have made better use of his time” after he showed videos about a potential artificial port island off Gaza and a transport corridor to India to his European counterparts, adding it “didn’t have much to do with what we were discussing”. 

Palestine’s Al-Maliki demanded the EU call for a ceasefire immediately and urged the bloc to consider sanctions against Netanyahu for “destroying the chances” of a two-state solution. “Every day that … we show hesitancy, people are being killed,” he said.

Borrell circulated what he called a “comprehensive approach” towards finding peace, involving the international community holding a conference that would come up with a plan to be put to both the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The paper said the international community should then eventually “set out the consequences they envisage to attach to engagement or non-engagement with the peace plan” by either side.

Protests in Israel

Protestors barged past security in the parliament building and entered an ongoing finance committee hearing, in one of the rooms of the Knesset building in Jerusalem. 

The group were demanding that the Israeli government take more action to rescue the over 130 remaining hostages in Gaza.

A man, first to break through security and into the room, shouted at politicians while others piled through the doors.

The man said in Hebrew: “It can’t go on like this. It can’t go on like this. You won’t sit there while our children die over there.”

Fellow protesters held signs with the same message to the politicians.

While security struggled to hold the man away, one committee member told security to “leave him alone” and to let him speak.

Other protesters in the room chanted: “Release them now, now, now!”

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The families of the hostages have yet to see their loved ones since the 7 October attacks, 107 days ago.

Over 100 hostages were released during a six-day ceasefire at the end of November, however negotiations to continue the ceasefire were dismantled after Israel pulled away from talks.

Hamas militants seized about 250 hostages during the first attack. Israeli officials say around 132 remain in Gaza.

Netanyahu has vowed “complete victory” over Hamas after the attacks that resulted in the deaths of about 1,140 people, mostly civilians, according to a tally based on official Israeli figures and conducted by the AFP news agency.

Israel’s assault on Gaza after the October attack killed over 25,000 Palestinians, the vast majority women and children, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

Khan Younis 

Gazans have sheltered today from intense bombing and shooting in the city of Khan Younis.

Witnesses reported deadly strikes and fierce fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants overnight in the southern city which has become the latest epicentre of the conflict.

The health ministry in Gaza reported today that more than 120 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours.

gaza-22nd-jan-2024-people-leave-their-home-after-israeli-bombings-in-the-southern-gaza-strip-city-of-khan-younis-jan-22-2024-at-least-50-palestinians-have-been-killed-and-dozens-of-others-wound People leave their home after Israeli bombings in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Victims of the latest Israeli strikes were brought to the hospital, at least one on a hand-pulled cart.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces were “besieging” their ambulance centre “and targeting anyone attempting to move in the area”.

Contains reporting by Muiris O’Cearbhaill and © AFP 2024