Brussels (Reuters) – European Union leaders will call this week for a “humanitarian pause” in the Israel-Hamas war so that aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip can safely reach those in need, according to draft conclusions of an EU summit.
EU officials said the text could still change before the Oct. 26-27 summit. Some countries have voiced reservations about calling for a ceasefire or pause in the fighting, arguing it could be seen as limiting Israel’s right to self-defence.
Leaders of the 27 countries that make up the EU will convene in Brussels for what is called a European Council, and the crisis in the Middle East will be high on their agenda.
“The European Council supports the call of UNSG (U.N. Secretary-General Antonio) Guterres for a humanitarian pause in order to allow for safe humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need,” the draft conclusions of the summit said.
“The European Union will work closely with partners in the region to protect civilians, support those who are trying to get to safety or provide assistance, and facilitate access to food, water, medical care, fuel and shelter. It reiterates the need for the immediate release of all hostages without any precondition,” said the draft, seen by Reuters.
Israel has been besieging and bombarding the Gaza Strip, killing thousands of Palestinians and displacing over a million people, with food, electricity and water supplies running out, since a cross-border assault on Israel by Hamas militants who killed 1,400 people and took over 200 hostages.
Israel’s military said on Monday its ground forces mounted limited raids into Gaza and air strikes targeted Palestinian militants assembling to repulse any wider Israeli invasion, as each side prepares for the next stage of the escalating war.
EU leaders will also underline the need to prevent the war escalating into a wider Middle East conflict and to “engage with partners in this respect including with the Palestinian Authority”, according to the draft text.
The leaders will say they are ready to contribute to reviving talks on establishing a “two-state solution” for Israel and the Palestinians, and will welcome the initiative of an inclusive Peace Summit proposed by Egypt, the draft said.