The call from EU countries to interrupt the battle between Israel and Hamas to provide emergency aid will make a difference, thinks outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte. According to him, the EU and the United States, Israel’s most important ally, are now pressing for this together. “Israel also has an interest in maintaining support.”
At their summit in Brussels on Thursday evening, Rutte and his fellow government leaders called for ‘pauses for humanitarian needs’ in the war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. “I think it does matter,” Rutte said afterwards about the hard-won agreement. The combined weight of Europe, the US ‘and the countries in the region’ counts, he thinks. Moreover, according to him, the call to ‘provide normal Gazans with crucial aid’ is also heard in Israel itself.
For example, whether the supply of aid to Gaza will now improve ‘will have to be seen in the coming days’, Rutte said. According to him, all diplomatic efforts are now focused on that.
Member states such as Germany were wary of compromising Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas. The pleas from Spain, among others, to ask for a ceasefire subsequently failed. “That actually means that you say to Israel: you are not allowed to defend yourself,” Rutte said.
Before the start of the summit, the outgoing Prime Minister insisted on ‘immediate’ access for large-scale aid, but the leaders called it ‘fast’. Rutte also wanted to ask Israel for ‘restraint’, but that was also not stated in so many words by the leaders. They do emphasize that citizens must be protected at all times.