EU foreign ministers discuss sanctions against Israel

    WORLD  28 May 2024 - 12:24

    EU foreign ministers have for the first time engaged in a “significant” discussion on sanctioning Israel if it doesn’t comply with international humanitarian law, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin said on May 27.

    “There was a very clear consensus about the need to uphold the international humanitarian legal institutions,” Martin told reporters following the Foreign Affairs Council, per POLITICO.

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Friday that Israel must immediately halt its offensive in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and open the Rafah border crossing to allow humanitarian aid to enter the enclave unimpeded.

    Israel subsequently continued its operations in Rafah, however, and on Sunday bombed a refugee camp, killing at least 45 Palestinians, over half of whom were women, children and elderly people, according to Gaza health authorities. The strikes were broadly condemned by EU leaders.

    “For the first time at an EU meeting, in a real way, I’ve seen significant discussion on sanctions and ‘what if’,” Martin said. He qualified that there is “some distance between people articulating the need for a sanctions-based approach if Israel does not comply with the ICJ’s ruling … to the agreement in the Council meeting, given all of the different perspectives there.”

    “But there is a lot of concern … amongst member states in respect of what is a clear situation where the ICJ has ruled, made provisional orders, and the EU has always upheld the independence of that court and the need for nations to comply with it,” he said.

    “There was a strong discussion on the provisional orders of the International Court of Justice,” Martin said, with “very clear views that Israel should adhere to those provisional orders to open the border crossing with Rafah and cease its military operations in Rafah.”

    “One of the conclusions was to convene a meeting of the EU-Israeli Association Council to raise our grave concerns and to … seek from Israel a response in terms of complying with the orders of the Court,” he said.

    “International humanitarian law, adherence to human rights, is the raison d’etre of the European Union and events now are really putting that issue into sharp focus, particularly given the attack last night when so many innocent people were killed.”

    “Accountability is very important. It’s important to all those who were murdered by Hamas, that there would be accountability for what Hamas did, for the thousands of Palestinians who’ve been brutally killed throughout this war,” Martin said.

    The Israeli Foreign Press Department told POLITICO that they cannot comment on Martin’s statements, but that prior to the strike, “it was assessed that there would be no unexpected harm to civilians.”

    They said that the IDF General Staff’s Fact-Finding and Assessment Mechanism is “investigating the circumstances of the deaths of civilians in the area after the strike,” and the IDF “regrets any harm to uninvolved civilians during combat.”

    Caliber.Az

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