Europeans Send Mixed Signals Over War in Gaza

by David Haggith

, ISRAEL (Worthy News) — Alarm bells echo around the world  as Israel continues a major ground offensive it says is aimed at ending rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip fired by the militant group Hamas into Israel. Envoys of the European Union, including Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenburg along with the EU’s external relations commissioner and Schwarzenburg’s French and Swedish counterparts were due to hold talks in the region Monday, January 5.

The EU said its team would visit Egypt and later Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President in Jerusalem, Monday, January 5. The team was then go to the town of and finish up its Middle East trip in on Tuesday, January 6.

The EU, the largest donor for Palestinian territories, said French President Nicolas Sarkozy would also attend the meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Sarkozy also planned to visit Israel, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon this week.

Russia is also involved in reaching a solution along with the . said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice canceled her trip to in order to focus on events in Gaza.


French President Sarkozy said over the weekend that condemns Israel’s current actions in Gaza. However he also stressed that France “condemns with the same firmness [Hamas’] continuing rocket fire, which is an unacceptable provocation. Hamas, which decided to break the truce and to resume rocket fire on Israel, bears a heavy responsibility in the suffering of the Palestinians of Gaza.”

The EU envoys started in Cairo on a tour that would include Ramallah, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.

The delegation offered international monitors to help establish a sustainable ceasefire, something Israel has stated will be a necessary part of any truce before it will hault its own actions. The new European Union president from the Czech Republic rendered his opinion on Saturday that Israel’s ground incursion is “defensive, not offensive.”

Last week, Czech Foreign Schwarzenberg said, “Let us realize one thing: Hamas increased steeply the number of rockets fired at Israel since the ceasefire ended on December 19. That is not acceptable any more.”


He blamed Hamas for the growing death toll, saying the death toll is high because Hamas “chooses” to locate its bases and gun warehouses in densely populated civilian areas. Schwarzenberg told Czech media, “Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? … I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth.”

Meanwhile, international moves for an immediate ceasefire at the were blocked by the United States, which strongly backed Israel. Egypt protested this delay, with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak describing Israel’s ground assualt as a “terrifying aggression.”

Jordan’s King Abdullah II also pressed the U.N. Security Council to take action against Israel’s ground incursion. A communique from his administration stated, “The king demanded the U.N. Security Council immediately issue a decision to stop the aggression, open the border crossings and end the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown referred to the ground offensive as a “very dangerous moment,” but he added that, “Israelis must have some assurance that there are no rocket attacks coming into Israel.” He added that Egypt’s own assistance is crucial in shutting down tunnels allegedly used to  smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt.


Putting Israeli troops back on Gaza soil is something Israel says it resisted throughout over two years of frequent rocket bombardment from Gaza. World leaders are calling for proportionality in Israel’s response, but its government says hard action is the only way to end a barrage of rocket-attacks on several towns.

The U.S. State Department said it agred with Israel that  it was time for a permanent cease fire that would avoid endless attacks with no side ever gaining victory.

“We are working toward a ceasefire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante, where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza and to condemn the people of Gaza to a life of misery,” said U.S. State Department Spokesman, Sean McCormack. “It is obvious that that ceasefire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a ceasefire that is durable, sustainable, and not time limited,” he added.

U.S. President Elect, Barak Obama has remained silent over the latest tensions, saying earlier that the United States “has only one president at a time.”

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