Press Releases Speech by President Charles Michel at the Gaza aid conference in Jordan

Speech by President Charles Michel at the Gaza aid conference in Jordan

First let me thank you for convening this important conference here in Jordan. A lot has happened since the Cairo Peace Summit last October, organised by President Al-Sisi. That is why today’s conference is so vital.

The European Union was born from the ashes of World War II, a horrific humanitarian disaster. Since then, we have built our Union on the principles of human dignity, international cooperation, and international humanitarian law. Each civilian life matters, always and everywhere.

That is why, from day one, we have condemned Hamas’ brutal attack against the people of Israel last October. We also condemn the loss of each civilian life and the horrendous suffering and humanitarian disaster in Gaza.

The EU has three key priorities: ending the war, more humanitarian assistance and a political process.

First, ending the war in Gaza and ensuring the protection of all civilians. Every day without a ceasefire is another day of blood and death. We call for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Since March, we have urged the Israeli government not to undertake a ground operation in Rafah. The orders of the International Court of Justice must be respected. We strongly support the 3-phased approach — starting with a ceasefire and the release of hostages as endorsed by the UN Security Council yesterday.

Second, we must address the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and the magnitude of the disaster. According to sources, over 37,000 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 85,000 injured. 75% of the population in Gaza is internally displaced, with nowhere safe to go.

This war has also been a nightmare for the children of Gaza. 17,000 of them are separated from their families and many are orphans. Many have had limbs amputated, often without proper medical conditions. Each of these numbers represents a human life.  And each is absolutely heartbreaking. And all this suffering is happening just a couple of hundred kilometres from here. We cannot, and we do not, forget the West Bank and we call for an immediate halt to violence, there and in East Jerusalem.

I would like to thank key partners, especially Jordan and Egypt, for their leadership in providing humanitarian relief, as well as the United Nations. Since the outbreak of the crisis, the EU together with its member states have provided nearly 800 million euros in humanitarian aid for Palestinians. And we have coordinated the delivery of over 2,500 tonnes of in-kind assistance. I would like to commend the role played by our EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, who is here with us today, for his excellent work.

UNRWA is not a terrorist organisation. And we do not accept any attempt to label it as such. We will continue to support them, together with our member states. We also pay tribute to all aid workers who risk their lives to help others. Many have paid the ultimate price.

Our third priority is about the future. A more peaceful future. We have no choice but to look beyond this darkness to an urgent settlement based on the two-state solution. And there is one lesson learned: security without peace is not security. Peace is the best and lasting security guarantee for both Israelis and Palestinians. We have consistently supported the two-state solution. We also support the Palestinian Authority and its reforms. This will bolster its legitimacy and credibility to deliver for its people. That is why we do not accept that Israel withhold crucial clearance revenues, which undermines the Palestinian Authority.

The EU has built a Union founded on forgiveness, reconciliation, and human dignity.  We believe in International Humanitarian Law and international justice. We will always be on the side of humanity, not on the side of hatred.

That is why we believe in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt. She said: “It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”

Humanity has no borders. It has no religion and no skin colour.  It is universal. Let’s work together to build a safe and peaceful future for this region and its children. You can count on the EU.

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