In Egypt and Jordan, Ursula von der Leyen goes under the radar

Published on Nov 19, 2023 at 3:20 p.m.

Official speaking engagements this time were very limited. Ursula von der Leyen spoke publicly only once during her tour on Saturday and Sunday in Egypt and then in Jordan, sticking to the relatively more consensual theme of humanitarian aid. This is his second trip to the region since the Hamas attacks of October 7, after a controversial first visit to Israel in mid-October.

“We all agree that the volume of aid reaching Gaza must increase,” the President of the European Commission told the Egyptian press on Saturday at the Rafah border post in the Sinai Peninsula, the only non-crossing point. controlled by Israel with the Palestinian enclave.

“We have quadrupled our humanitarian aid to 100 million euros (this year, Editor’s note), to which member countries added 260 million euros,” added the European representative, also mentioning the landing of 15 humanitarian flights at the Al Arish airport, transformed into a hub for the delivery of aid to the Palestinian territory targeted by the IDF counter-offensive.

No mention of “Israel’s right to defend itself”

The “right of Israel to defend itself”, which the European Commissioner had mentioned in Tel Aviv on October 13, omitting to mention the obligations of the Jewish State with regard in particular to international law concerning the protection of civilians, does not have this times, however, not been openly cited.

This exit, considered pro-Israeli, had aroused unease among the Twenty-Seven, having previously expressed a more moderate position, but also the rejection of the Arab street.

More than 12,300 Palestinians have lost their lives in Israeli bombings in Gaza since October 7, according to the Hamas government. Meanwhile, in the occupied West Bank, around 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers and soldiers, according to the Palestinian Authority. “We condemn the unacceptable violence of extremists in the West Bank,” Ursula von der Leyen simply wrote on the X platform (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, following her meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Towards an agreement on the release of the hostages?

The possibility of either a ceasefire or occasional “truces” and “humanitarian corridors” in Gaza, which the European Council is calling for, was however not mentioned in public by the European representative. “We are working with our various partners for the release of the hostages which could then result in humanitarian truces,” specifies a senior European official, who does not wish to be quoted.

A conditionality refused by Arab countries, including Egypt and Jordan, who are calling for an immediate ceasefire and unhindered entry of humanitarian aid into the enclave.

The conclusion of an agreement on the release of the hostages now only rests on “minor” practical questions, Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdelrahmane Al-Thani ured Sunday during a parallel press conference in Doha, in presence of the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell.

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