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Ireland failed to secure EU statement against Israeli escalation after Hamas attack

Ireland was unsuccessful in pushing the European Union to call for an avoidance of an escalation in violence following the surprise Hamas attack on Israel this weekend, according to diplomatic sources.

The attempt met strong opposition among other EU countries which felt a clear statement of solidarity with Israel was more important after the Hamas incursions killed more than 800 people, including 260 at a rave party, and captured dozens of hostages.

In negotiations that bounced between capitals on Saturday, Ireland was joined by Denmark and Luxembourg in pushing for a statement to include an appeal to avoid escalation, according to diplomatic sources.

Luxembourg asked for the text to include “a call to avoid escalation”, its foreign ministry said.

Their efforts were not successful and no mention of escalation was made in the condemnation of the attack, which was issued on Saturday by the EU’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell on behalf of the EU member states.

“The EU stands in solidarity with Israel, which has the right to defend itself in line with international law, in the face of such violent and indiscriminate attacks,” the statement read.

The statement condemned “in the strongest possible terms the multiple and indiscriminate attacks across Israel by Hamas” and called on the militant group to cease the “senseless attacks and violence”.

Austria strongly opposed the idea of including a call to avoid escalation and considered it a red line for signing off on the statement, one diplomat said.

Ireland ultimately backed the statement even though it left out an appeal to avoid escalation, deeming it important for the EU to issue a joint statement quickly and not get drawn into protracted negotiations.

Horror at the nature of the attacks on civilians by Hamas after its militants broke through the border with Gaza appears to have led to a hardened EU response.

Official EU buildings including the European Commission projected an image of the Israeli flag in a mark of solidarity over the weekend, and hoisted Israel’s flag along with the EU’s flag of yellow stars.

The EU is now to consider suspending all aid to the Palestinian territories in an emergency meeting of foreign ministers on Tuesday called in response to the attack.

Both Austria and Germany have already frozen all national aid to the Palestinian territories, and there is pressure from several member states for the EU to suspend €1.18 billion in financing that it pledged to be dispersed to the West Bank and the Hamas-controlled territory of Gaza between 2021 and 2024.

In response to the attacks Israel has unleashed an intense bombardment of Gaza that has so far killed 511 people and injured 2,750, according to Palestinian authorities.

Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant declared there would be a “complete siege” of the territory with “no electricity, food or fuel” allowed to pass.

This has raised concerns that a dire humanitarian situation may develop in the impoverished strip of land, which is home to two million people and has long been blockaded between Israel, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea.

Over the weekend, an incorrect report went viral, claiming that Ireland, Denmark, and Luxembourg had prevented the EU statement from describing Hamas as a terror group.

The report by an Israel-based television station citing an unnamed diplomatic source was firmly denied by all three countries.

“Reports in the media about Ireland’s position on the EU statement agreed on Saturday are simply incorrect,” a DFA spokesperson said. “Ireland supports the EU position that Hamas is a terrorist organisation.”

Denmark “would never do that,” the Danish foreign ministry said in a statement on social media. “Hamas is listed a terror organisation by the EU and [Denmark] has on several occasions referred to Hamas as such.”

“At no point did we refuse to call Hamas a terror organisation,” Luxembourg’s foreign minister Jean Asselborn said in a statement.

Source : Irish Time