Thank you, your Excellency, Prime Minister [and Foreign Minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani].
It is good to be back in Doha again. I am honoured to discuss with you about the very sad circumstances that we are facing. And I am honoured to be received the by the Emir [Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani] later.
You know, my dear Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed, that I always enjoy and appreciate exchanges with you and Qatari authorities.
This is my third visit to Qatar in as the High Representative of the European Union. I would have preferred very much to have our discussion about our longstanding partnership and our further bilateral cooperation development.
But unfortunately, we are here today to discuss the very dire regional situation.
In the past four days, I met counterparts from Israel and Palestine, went to Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, I visited the kibbutzes at the border [with Gaza] that were assaulted by Hamas. I met with families of the hostages. [I was] in Bahrain and now here in Qatar, after I go to Jordan. In Bahrain, I met a lot of your colleagues from different Arab countries.
All of us, we were discussing the same thing – how to stop the suffering of innocent civilians – in Gaza now, they suffered also in Israel, but now the concentration of pain of people being killed, civilian victims, is in Gaza. This is the challenge that we have to try to solve. Our joint efforts are needed more than ever.
I appreciate a lot the constructive role that Qatar is playing as a regional power with much capacity in fostering peace and stability.
I express my appreciation to both His Highness and His Excellency, the Prime Minister, for their diplomatic efforts regionally and internationally. Qatar has emerged as a key go-to mediator, and not only in the Middle East, In many other crises.
Remember the Afghanistan one. Well, nobody remembers about Afghanistan anymore. But you played an important role, as you are playing it now.
I want to recognize your personal engagement on the repatriation of Ukrainian children illegally taken by Russia, but also on the prisoners exchanges with Iran.
So, in many aspects, in many problems, you are playing an important role to make peace and to free people.
Today, we discussed, in particular, the issue of the hostages taken by Hamas during their terrorist attack on Israel on October 7. There again, Qatar is playing an important facilitating role in the efforts to achieve their release.
Once again, I use this opportunity to call for an unconditional release of the hostages, and for allowing access to them by the Red Cross or the Red Crescent.
What Hamas did, was the biggest massacre of Jews since the Second World War. But at the same time, we are witnessing the horrible humanitarian situation of the people, civilians in Gaza, suffering under heavy bombardment.
The United Nations today has announced the bombardment of UNRWA school in the north of Gaza with tens of casualties. The United Nations consider what’s happening in Gaza one of the biggest humanitarian crises of our time. They call it in French “carnage”.
There is no hierarchy between horrors. One horror does not justify another horror. And the pain that you inflict on children of others, will not justify never, will not compensate the pain your children have been suffering. On the contrary, it will create a violent spiral that will come once again unless we got a peace, a sustainable peace.
That is why the European Union has called for immediate humanitarian pauses, and the United Nations Security Council, under the request of one member of the EU – Malta, and with the support of France and Germany, members of the European Union, adopted a very important resolution asking for immediate, urgent and sustained humanitarian pauses. Sorry, I said the members of the EU, who are members of the UN Security Council. Presented by Malta and voted for by EU members who are members of the UN Security Council.
I want to remind that the decisions of UN Security Council are not just words. They are compulsory, they have to be implemented.
But this resolution has not been implemented, not yet. To the contrary, the bombing has continued. I have to recall that this decision of the UN Security Council has to be implemented. Too many lives are being lost every day.
In my discussions with our Israeli friends, I insisted on respect for international humanitarian law and on maximum restraint against civilians in their retaliation.
But the number of casualties, in particular the number of children [casualties], makes us believe that much more needs to be done in order to preserve lives of civilians.
With international partners we are urgently seeking ways how to move from war to peace. We established a humanitarian hub in Egypt, launched humanitarian air bridges, and multiplied our humanitarian assistance.
Providing humanitarian assistance is essential, but it is dealing with the symptoms. It does not make a lot of meaning to give food for one’s dinner, and then be killed the following day. We need to tackle the causes.
We need to make the humanitarian stage the first step, for a political stage. And there, the Two State solution is the only viable way out.
I have to repeat once again, that we have been claiming the Two State solution for more than 30 years without doing whatever has to be done in order to make it a possibility.
And now, in the middle of this horrific crisis, there is maybe a wake-up call for the international community and, in particular, for us as Europeans and Arabs, that we have a special responsibility in engaging for a solution.
30 years ago, in Oslo, this was decided and we first finally need to set out the steps and principles leading there, to move from declarations to concrete actions and implementation. Because it is not only peace between Arab states and Israel, it has to be peace between Palestinians and Israelis, otherwise this crisis will continue sending shock waves around the world and affecting [also] European societies and their fabric.
We are [already] seeing anti-Semitism developing, and also anti-Muslim[phobia], and this anti-whatever, -whoever has to be stopped in order to keep peace among us, inside our societies and among the countries of the Middle East.
When I am saying that I am calling for a Two State solution, I am very much aware that it will require a lot of effort, not only economically, because Gaza has been rebuilt several times, not only economically great investment and support, but a political investment not only to build houses but a state.
On that, the Palestinian Authority has an important role to play.
My dear Prime Minister, Palestinians deserve dignity. Israel deserves security. Both deserve prosperous live in peace and safety in the same land.
We want to work together to achieve this and that is why I appreciate a lot our discussion today in Doha.
Several months ago, when nobody was taking care of what was happening in the Middle East, we launched this Peace Day [Effort] initiative, and we held a meeting at the United Nations in New York in September. More than 40 people [representing countries and organisations] attended and all of them agreed that we have to work on building this Two State solution. At that moment, nothing dramatic was happening.
But now, in the middle of this crisis, the best honour we can do to people who lost their lives on one side and the another, is to do work in order to make this impossible to happen again.
Watch the video here: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-249526