EU-Gulf Cooperation Council High Level Forum

This EU-GCC is very timely, we are gathering here today during some very turbulent times. Conflict is on our doorstep. Not only the horrendous crisis in Gaza, the tensions with Iran and the invasion of Russia in Ukraine; but also the destabilizing actions in Sudan and in the Sahel region pose a grave threat to the security of all our citizens.

We must be allies to overcome these dangers. I therefore welcome the efforts of Mr. Luigi Di Maio, to bring both our organizations closer together.

I have still in mind our last meeting in Oman, few days after the the terrorist attacks of Hamas on Israel. Together we condemned all attacks on civilians and called for their protection. We reminded the parties to oblige the universal principles of international humanitarian law. I have stated it then, I will state it again now: It is not about being pro-Palestinian, or pro-Israeli: it is about standing firmly in favor of international law, it’s about being pro-peace and justice!

We also spoke at length about the very urgent need to achieve a lasting peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. I commend all the efforts taken by both our organizations and individual countries in striving for both short-term and long-term solutions. But I think that this is the moment to take all the different initiatives together, to  help the Israelis and Palestinians towards the only sustainable political option; the Two-State solution.

Because now, 6 months after our meeting in Oman, we must acknowledge that the situation has not improved, but has rather worsened over time. The humanitarian situation in Gaza is absolutely appalling. Violence in the West Bank is at an all-time high. Attacks back and forth between Israel and Hezbollah continue to escalate. Iran and its proxies are attacking Israel on multiple fronts, and Israel keeps responding with aggravating attacks.

A regional escalation will be detrimental, not only for the parties immediately involved, but also for all of our citizens. The time to de-escalate is now. The time for peace and a two state solution is now!

And to achieve this goal,  we must speak with one voice. To demand an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional liberation of all hostages and full, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access in Gaza and the West Bank.

We must join our efforts to avoid a regional escalation and to insist that all parties must exercise the utmost restraint.

We must to join our effort to agree on a political process that should lead to the recognition of Palestine, the security of Israel and the right to exist and to live in peace for both countries.

Finally, allow me to also mention the situation in Sudan, a country which is also being devastated by armed conflict while a very serious humanitarian crisis is developing. Also here, I would like to call for urgent de-escalation and more humanitarian assistance.