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EU's top diplomat obsessed with Israel: a policy fixation

As antisemitism surges in Europe, Ukraine collapses under Putin's aggression and far-right gains ground across continent, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell seems preoccupied with only one issue: Israel and its war against Hamas; until his term ends in October, Borrell expected to continue using his position to hinder Jerusalem's efforts

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Spaniard Josep Borrell, has an obsession: the State of Israel. Despite Europe's own challenges, Borrell seems almost exclusively focused on Israel.
Since March of this year, Borrell has tweeted 127 times about the Israeli-Palestinian issue—twice as many as on the war in Ukraine (67), an issue directly affecting Europe. On the rise of the pro-Putin regime in Georgia, Borrell has tweeted only seven times. Concerning the rest of the world, he's posted 71 tweets—nearly as many as those on Israel alone.
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ג'וזפ בורל
ג'וזפ בורל
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell
(Photo: AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)
A quick glance at his X (formerly Twitter) account Sunday shows his lack of engagement with European matters. While far-right parties in several countries made significant gains in the European Parliament, creating real upheaval in Europe, Borrell remained silent. Instead, he dedicated two separate tweets to the rescue operation and what he called "another massacre" in Gaza.
There is a consensus in Jerusalem that Borrell currently spearheads all anti-Israel decisions within the European Union and calls for sanctions against Israel. Nearly every day, he condemns Israel or attempts to pass resolutions against it in EU institutions. Without the opposition from Israel's friends in the EU, such as Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany, the EU might have already passed sanctions against Israel. Foreign policy decisions in the EU require consensus, which Israel's allies prevent.
For example, Borrell managed to pass a decision to impose sanctions on violent settlers after heavy pressure. He is now trying to convene the Association Council following proposals from several countries to suspend agreements with Israel due to human rights violations. Fortunately, Borrell stands no chance of overcoming the consensus barrier, as it requires unanimous agreement, and Israel has strong allies.
Borrell is pressing European countries to recognize a Palestinian state. To claim credit, he was the first to announce that Norway, Spain, Ireland and Slovenia would recognize a Palestinian state. This behavior has angered many EU countries that disapprove of his actions and his divergence from the Union's official stance. Reports in Europe indicate that Borrell was reprimanded by the German and Austrian chancellors for not representing the EU's position on Israel.
Israeli officials believe that the relationship with the EU is greater than the relationship with Borrell. Time and again, it has been shown that Borrell does not represent the EU's views. Often, the European official has had to issue statements in his own name, not the union's, as the EU does not endorse his positions.
A review of Borrell's recent post on X reveals an obsession with Israel: he seems to view it as the source of all global problems. Empathy for Israeli suffering is hardly present in his posts. The "nightmare" of Borrell's tenure is set to end this October when his term concludes.
Last week, over a hundred Jewish community leaders in Europe sharply criticized Borrell at an emergency conference of the European Jewish Association (EJA), accusing his clear and repeated anti-Israel bias of significantly contributing to current waves of anti-Semitism and the defamation of Israel among the European public.
In response, European Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said, "I firmly reject any accusation against High Representative Borrell of antisemitism or contributing to the wave of antisemitism. Borrell is not biased against Israel.
Borrell “is not biased against Israel... He is concerned about the loss of human life,” the spokesperson stressed. A concern that extends both to the deaths of Israeli citizens that occurred “during the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7”, and “to the loss of innocent lives of hostages” in the hands of Hamas and, of course also, “to the lives of innocent civilians who are perishing in the continued hostilities in Gaza,” he recalled.
"Talking about this and trying to find solutions to break the cycle of violence once and for all is not antisemitism," Stano said, emphasizing that Borrell's role is "to seek consensus on the positions and actions of the EU in important events that are part of the domain of European foreign policy, and this also includes the conflict in Gaza.”

Borrell condemns hostage rescue as 'another massacre'

His last post on Saturday night, following the rescue operation of four hostages, criticized Israel for the civilian casualties in the operation in Nuseirat, writing, "Reports from Gaza of another massacre of civilians are appalling. We condemn this in the strongest terms. The bloodbath must end immediately." He added that U.S. President Joe Biden's "3-stage plan is the way forward for an enduring ceasefire and to end the killing."
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Rescued hostages Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, Noa Argamani and Almog Meir Jan
Rescued hostages Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, Noa Argamani and Almog Meir Jan
Rescued hostages Shlomi Ziv, Andrey Kozlov, Noa Argamani and Almog Meir Jan
(Photo: REUTERS/Marko Djurica, IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
In an earlier post, Borrell said, "Noa Argamani, Almog Meir Jan, Andrey Kozlov and Shlomi Ziv are free and safe today. We share the relief of their families and call for the release of all the remaining hostages," he wrote on X, again adding that Biden's "3-stage plan is the way forward to rescue all the hostages and end the suffering.
On April 13, Borrell expressed shock at the ongoing violence in the West Bank. "Settlers resorted to mob violence in several villages causing Palestinian casualties after a 14-year old [sic] Israeli was found dead. I strongly condemn this murder and the ongoing escalation of violence, he wrote.
On April 17, Borrell, together with the EU Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič, issued a statement. "It is essential to avoid any further escalation in the Middle East, in particular following the attacks from Iran targeting Israel. At this crucial time, we yet again call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2728, demanding an urgent and unfettered expansion of the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza to prevent further escalation of this humanitarian crisis and the catastrophic, predictable and avoidable outcome for its population," they wrote.
"It is with the gravest dismay that we acknowledge the mounting evidence of unfolding famine in Gaza and the escalation of the humanitarian situation to a catastrophic level... Famine threatens 1.1 million Palestinians, with 210 000 in North Gaza alone facing imminent starvation, as indicated by the latest reports... Since 7 October, only a fraction of the minimum required food has entered Gaza, significantly contributing to the looming famine and acute food insecurity... There is no shortage of aid supplies as they are abundant, waiting at the border with neighbouring countries and ready to be channelled into Gaza. It is imperative to let them reach those who need them."
Borrell added, "We call on all parties to fulfil their obligations under international law, particularly emphasising Israel's responsibility as the occupying power to ensure that the basic needs of Palestinians in Gaza are met. This entails ensuring that the humanitarian community has unimpeded and safe access, first and foremost by land, to assist the population with adequate relief supplies. These obligations are not discretionary but mandated by international humanitarian law, as set out by the Fourth Geneva Convention. They are also reinforced by the International Court of Justice's provisional measures, resolutions from the United Nations Security Council, and European Council conclusions.
"Moreover," he noted, "the persistent instability within Gaza, including attacks on aid workers and medical personnel, contributes to the shrinking of the humanitarian space. The loss of 7 staff members from World Central Kitchen is just one among many other appalling attacks on humanitarians which has claimed the lives of more than 200 aid workers. All humanitarian and medical personnel, as well as hospitals and aid facilities, must be protected as per international humanitarian law.
"We also urge Israel to address the rapidly escalating violence across the West Bank. We strongly condemn extremist settler violence and demand that all perpetrators be held accountable. Immediate action is needed to de-escalate the situation and end the cycle of bloodshed and revenge.”
Needless to say, Borrell did not mention that Hamas steals food from supply convoys, nor did he acknowledge that Israel allows unrestricted aid entry, with the issues stemming from the UN's dysfunction in food distribution.

Opposing Rafah ground operations, pushing Gaza famine allegations

On April 23, Borrell spoke at the European Parliament during a discussion on the situation in Gaza. He paid lip service to condemning Hamas and calling for the release of hostages, only mentioning these points toward the end of his speech.
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  תיעוד מפעילות כוחות צה"ל ברפיח
  תיעוד מפעילות כוחות צה"ל ברפיח
IDF forces operating in Rafah
(Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
He referenced Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel in April without condemning it, focusing instead on the destruction in Gaza and claiming that 249 aid workers were killed during the fighting, though Israel acknowledged responsibility for only seven of those deaths. He also expressed concern over the so-called Al Jazeera law to shut down the Qatari-owned channel's operations in Israel, mentioned the report by French former foreign minister Catherine Colonna exonerating UNRWA and emphasized the need to resume cooperation with the organization.
On May 1, Borrell posted against the operation in Rafah, writing, "Israel’s partners and neighbours are speaking with one voice: Rafah must not be attacked. We all demand the immediate release of all hostages. The elimination of Hamas cannot come at the unbearable cost of thousands of civilian deaths. Further displacement of over a million vulnerable persons would be devastating. We urge the government of Israel to heed the calls of the international community and constructively engage in a political peace process."
On May 3, he strongly condemned an attack by settlers on a Jordanian convoy bringing aid to Gaza. On May 6, he posted, "The much feared scenario has come true: according to @WFPChief Cindy McCain, there’s full-blown famine in the north of Gaza, moving to the south. The so far unheard demands by the international community must be listened to: UNSCR 2728 must be implemented fully & immediately. A ceasefire is urgent, to get to the liberation of the hostages and bring relief to those starving."
On the same day, he also spoke out against the evacuation of civilians from Rafah. "Israel's evacuation orders to civilians in Rafah portend the worst: more war and famine. It is unacceptable. Israel must renounce to [sic] a ground offensive and implement UNSCR 2728. The EU, with the International Community, can and must act to prevent such scenario," he wrote.
Days later, he condemned an "attack against the UNRWA premises in East Jerusalem, saying, "Perpetrators must be held to account. It is Israel’s responsibility to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers. UNRWA is an irreplaceable lifeline to millions in Gaza and the region."

Encouraging ICC prosecution of Israeli officials

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בנימין נתניהו יואב גלנט איסמעיל הנייה יחיא סינוואר
בנימין נתניהו יואב גלנט איסמעיל הנייה יחיא סינוואר
Top left clockwise: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar and Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh
(Photo: Yonatan Sindel, Elad Malka, IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
"I take note of the decision of the ICC Prosecutor to apply for warrants of arrest before Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Deif, Ismail Haniyeh, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yoav Gallant," he wrote.
"The mandate of the ICC, as an independent international institution, is to prosecute the most serious crimes under international law. All States that have ratified the ICC statutes are bound to execute the Court’s decisions.
Borrell's message is clear: if arrest warrants are issued against Netanyahu and Gallant, he expects EU member states to arrest them if they enter their jurisdictions.
Finally, on May 22, Borrell posted: "I take note of today’s announcement by 2 EU Member States -Ireland and Spain- and by Norway on the recognition of the State of Palestine. Within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, I will relentlessly work with all Member States to promote a common EU position based on a 2-state solution."
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