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Double human standards on the Israeli-Palestinian crisis

Ursula von der Leyen visited Kfar Aza kibbutz and expressed unconditional solidarity with Israel on behalf of the European Union, but was criticised by officials for not speaking out on the humanitarian consequences after Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip, according to Politico.

A recent series of attacks by the Israeli forces has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, including many civilians. The European Commission President’s silence on the matter provoked a negative reaction among diplomats. “She simply said Israel has the right to defend itself, full stop,” said a diplomat who spoke anonymously to speak freely. “That is not the line member states agreed.”

At the same time, European Union foreign ministers sharply condemned the Hamas attacks, but “called for the protection of civilians and restraint, the release of hostages, for allowing access to food, water and medicines to Gaza in line with international humanitarian law,” implying a sole commitment to ensuring that civilians are not threatened by both armed sides.

Iratxe García, the leader of the Socialists and Democrats group in the Parliament, commented on Ursula von der Leyen’s words about Israel’s democracy and recognition of Palestinian suffering: “Both Ursula von der Leyen and Roberta Metsola were right to show Europe’s solidarity and absolute condemnation for Hamas’ terrorist attacks.”

However, an addendum to the words followed, reflecting dissatisfaction that von der Leyen had not presented the position of the entire council:

With their visit to Israel they failed, upholding an unacceptable bias that can only cause harm.

Furthermore, another statement was said on X while in Israel that every effort should be made to ensure that the humanitarian consequences are mitigated. Metsola’s spokesperson Jüri Laas said the president underlined that how “we respond to the terror attacks matters,” during meetings with officials.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Government has dramatically ordered 1 million people to leave northern Gaza due to the upcoming Israeli army offensive.

This, of course, was met negatively and with criticism from international organizations, which called the order a crime against humanity.

“Forcible population transfers constitute a crime against humanity, and collective punishment is prohibited under international humanitarian law,” said Paula Gaviria Betancur, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons in a statement Friday.

Von der Leyen was also sent remarks that should have been taken into account when making statements of this nature. Nathalie Loiseau, a senior French MEP who chairs the security and defence committe, wrote on X:

Madame von der Leyen … You are forgetting an important message: Israel must respect international humanitarian law.

The European Council, led by Chairman Charles Michel, said that international law “must be respected” by Israel, which has blocked food supplies to civilians and is now about to launch a military operation that will affect even more lives than the lack of food and resources.

Such criticism remains valid for a number of factors. These include the incomprehensible statements made by the Commission when Oliver Varhely announced that the EU would immediately suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority. A few hours later this decision was reversed.

Jonathan Rosenzweig, the deputy chief of mission at Israel’s mission to the EU, criticised the EU’s overall position, while killings and violence are taking place in the territory of the current conflict. He added: “You need to recalibrate your moral compass.”

The criticism continued and the Commission announced a tripling of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip to €75 million.

“The Commission supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists, in full respect of international humanitarian law,” the Commission said in a statement.

A spokesperson for von der Leyen did not respond to any request for comment.

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