A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City
The remains of a building after it destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City
Photo: Reuters
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas

Germany calls for truce in Israel-Gaza violence, offers more aid

In a statement ahead of EU meeting, German Foreign Minister Maas pledges 40 million euros in humanitarian aid; Egypt's al-Sisi promises $500 million in reconstruction efforts for the Palestinian enclave

Reuters, AFP |
Published: 05.18.21 , 17:52
Germany called for a ceasefire in fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and offered more aid to help Palestinians on Tuesday before emergency European Union talks that are expected to highlight divisions over the conflict.
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  • The call for a truce follows U.S. President Joe Biden's support for a ceasefire during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas
    (Photo: AFP)
    Germany made the comments before a video call of the EU's 27 foreign ministers chaired by chief Josep Borrell to discuss how to end the conflict, although diplomats warned that differing opinions over the Middle East would marginalize the bloc's role.
    "An end to the violence is the first priority," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a video statement streamed on social media, as the fiercest hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians in years continued.
    "Today, I will lobby for a better humanitarian supply in Gaza," Maas said, pledging 40 million euros ($48.86 million) to ramp up humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.
    The EU is Israel's biggest trade partner and a big aid donor to the Palestinians but has been reluctant to use such leverage or discuss possible economic sanctions on Israel's government.
    The EU has long played a back seat to the United States in Middle East peace negotiations and has had limited influence in the region.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    General view of European Union ambassadors with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during special video conference of EU foreign ministers to discuss recent developments in the Middle East, in particular the ongoing violent confrontation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, in Brussels, Belgium
    General view of European Union ambassadors with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during special video conference of EU foreign ministers to discuss recent developments in the Middle East, in particular the ongoing violent confrontation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian Territories, in Brussels, Belgium
    European Union ambassadors with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell during special video conference on recent developments in the Middle East, in Brussels, Belgium
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Preparations for joint statements in the EU are divisive and Tuesday's meeting is unlikely to produce any new policies.
    Diplomats said even organizing the video call was slow, drawing criticism for a lack of a Western response from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
    One senior EU diplomat told Reuters the weak response was "not terribly encouraging," stressing the divided loyalties of the EU's 27 members.
    At least eight smaller EU states, led by Luxembourg and including Belgium, Ireland, Malta and Finland, are vocal defenders of the Palestinians. They say the EU must do more to support Palestinians in their drive for statehood.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City
    A view shows the remains of a building after it was destroyed in Israeli air strikes, amid a flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, in Gaza City
    The remains of a building after it destroyed in Israeli air strikes in Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Other countries, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Greece, Cyprus and Poland, are ready to defend Israel's interests. Austria flew an Israeli flag over the federal chancellery in Vienna on Friday.
    Germany, which still carries the burden of guilt over the Nazi crimes of World War Two, is unwilling to discuss coercive measures against Israel.
    Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides expressed frustration with the EU's diplomatic deadlock.
    "The European Union should have, right now, a leading role (in diffusing the crisis). It doesn't have that role, either because of differences in approach by member states or because there is no strategic approach from Brussels," he told Cyprus' Alpha TV.
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    כיתוב: נשיא מצרים עבד אל פתאח א סיסי ביקור ב פריז צרפת עמנואל מקרון
    כיתוב: נשיא מצרים עבד אל פתאח א סיסי ביקור ב פריז צרפת עמנואל מקרון
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting in Paris Tuesday
    (Photo: AFP)
    French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he would work with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Jordan's King Abdullah II on a concrete proposal for a ceasefire and a possible path to discussions between Israel and the Palestinians.
    Al-Sisi pledged Tuesday $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in Gaza, according to a statement from his office.
    "Egypt will provide $500 million... for the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip as a result of recent events, with expert Egyptian construction companies implementing the rebuilding," the presidency said in a statement.
    Egypt also sent 65 tonnes of medical aid to neighboring Gaza, its healthy ministry said.



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