Press Releases Gaza conflict: Remarks by High Representative Joseph Borrell after his visit in Saudi Arabia

Gaza conflict: Remarks by High Representative Joseph Borrell after his visit in Saudi Arabia

Three months after the 7th of October, when the tragedy started with a terrorist attacks of Hamas, and then the bombing of Gaza and the unbearable number of civilian casualties, I came back to the Middle East, first to Beirut and after to Riyad, talking with relevant actors in the region.

I took stock of two things. First, the dramatic humanitarian situation of the people in Gaza. I had a video conference and got a lot of explanation from UNRWA Director General [Philippe] Lazzarini and from his people in Gaza. And certainly, the situation is appalling, with hundreds of thousands of people having lost their shelters, having no food, being in an extreme miserable situation.

And secondly, the high risk of escalation in the region, in the border of Lebanon – Israel and also in the Red Sea. And we have to avoid these. We have to avoid the war spilling over. The war has to stop, not to expand. And the only solution for avoiding the war [from] expanding is to look for a political solution for the conflict between Israel and Palestine. And this will require a strong commitment of the international community and to start with, the European and the Arab people.

And that is what we agreed with the Prince Faisal [bin Farhan Al Saud] – the Foreign Affairs Minister of Saudi Arabia – to continue the work in that that we initiated some days before the tragedy started, when at the end of September in New York at the United Nations General Assembly, we launched the initiative of the Peace Day [Effort].

Nobody was thinking about the drama in the Palestinian territories, but in the West Bank was already a drama. And in Gaza too. And we started thinking about it and looking for a solution, because peace between the Arab states and Israel is good but is not enough.

This has to be done mostly between Israel and Palestine, because only through an agreement, a political agreement – the two-state solution – Israel could be safe, because its security can not only be based on the military capacity, it has been proved.

And now we have to stop the killing of civilians in Gaza. We have to stop this great number of casualties. Hamas has to be eradicated. But Hamas is an idea, it represents an idea, and you cannot kill an idea. The only way of killing an idea – a bad idea – is to propose a better one, to give a horizon to the Palestinian people, to their dignity, to their freedom, to their security, which has to go hand in hand with the security of Israel.

This is going to be difficult. It has always been difficult. For 30 years, the international community has been preaching the two-state solution without doing a lot, or sometimes nothing in order to make it possible. And today it is more difficult than 30 years ago when the Oslo agreements [have been concluded]. But even if it is difficult, we have to try.

And I am coming back to Brussels with the commitment between the European and the Arab world to work for that, and to avoid a war expanding in the region. It is in nobody’s interest [to have] another war in the border with Lebanon, it is in nobody’s interest to jeopardise the traffic, the transportation of the ships in the Red Sea. Well, maybe it is in the interest of someone, but certainly not in the interest of humankind.

Link to the video:

Peter Stano
Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

+32 (0)460 75 45 53
Gioia Franchellucci
Press Officer for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy

+32 229-68041

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