Mr President [of Israel, Isaac Herzog], thank you very much for receiving me. It is a great honour and a special responsibility to be here with you and to speak on behalf of the 27 Member [States] of the European Union.
It is a great responsibility, and with your permission I will have to support [myself] with the paper in order to be sure that I convey the precise message I want to convey to you.
The first one is clear, I do not need a paper to express it: it is a message of solidarity. It is a message of support. It is a message of saying to Israel that the European Union is with you, supporting you in your right to [self] defence in accordance with humanitarian and international law.
I have been this morning in the Kibbutz Be’eri. There is a sentence in Spanish that says: “Los ojos que no ven, el corazón que no siente” – if the eyes do not see, the heart does not feel. And I saw. I see.
And it reminded me when I was a young boy and I served in a kibbutz near Be’er Sheva. When I entered in the ravaged rooms of the kibbutz [Be’eri], I had a feeling I felt more than 40 years ago.
Mr President, I also had a meeting with the families of the hostages. It has been a difficult meeting, a heart-breaking meeting. I am coming from a country that had been fighting against terrorism that were kidnapping people – ETA. They were kidnapping people, and they were killing them. I know personally what does it mean for the families to have one of your loved [ones] in the incertitude. Where is he? And they asked us to do whatever we can in order to free them – and that is what I promised.
We cannot bring [back to] life the people who have been killed, but we can make free the people that have been taken hostages. On that, we are working.
Mr President, after watching the horrific events [that] happened near Gaza, I also have to express my concern about the situation in Gaza itself.
Today, the United Nations [Security Council] has voted a resolution which I think is important because it is asking to give more support to the people who are suffering in Gaza. They are also the victims of Hamas.
I am shocked about the human suffering of the Israeli people, but I am also concerned by the suffering of the people in Gaza.
And I want to ask you to do your utmost in order to decrease the level of suffering of the civilians. Because I think that the international community – I include the European Union – has committed a political and moral fault, not taking enough into consideration the problem, the peace in Palestine and Israel. And maybe these tragic circumstances [will bring an occasion] to re-engage with that – because only peace will bring to Israel full security.
This is something that we have to do, and I am saying that as a friend of Israel.
I am coming from a part of the world – the European Union, Europe – that for years, we had been fighting against each other, devastating, killing, almost committing suicide. And at the end, we make a reconciliation and today, you can travel from Gibraltar to the Artic without crossing any border.
The borders, Mr President, are the scars that the history has been carving on the skin on the earth. We have to overcome that. We have to make peace – not only between Israel and the Arab countries, but between Israel and Palestine.
Mr President, I have a long history in my relationship with Israel. I was a close friend of [former Prime Minister of Israel] Shimon Peres, and Shimon told me one day: “War is not unavoidable. What is unavoidable is peace.” Unhappily, peace is not coming – not yet.
Our common endeavour, our common responsibility is to try to fight in order that no more lives get lost. No more human suffering.
This is the commitment that I take with me from the European Union: to support you, to support you to defend yourself, to support you in respecting the laws of war and to support you in bringing peace.
Thank you, Mr President.
Link to the video (starting at 2:00): https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-249409