Home Politics Monitor Ursula von der Leyen’s Israel-Hamas Missteps
Politics Monitor

Ursula von der Leyen’s Israel-Hamas Missteps

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen leaves after a statement in Brussels on April 27, 2022, following the decision by Russian energy giant Gazprom to halt gas shipments to Poland and Bulgaria in Moscow's latest use of gas as a weapon in the conflict in Ukraine. (Photo by Olivier HOSLET / POOL / AFP)

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen is under fire for her management of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This is because Angela Merkel’s former Minister of Defense not only exceeded her prerogatives but she made and allowed comments to be made which weaken the voice of the European Union at a time when the latter had the opportunity to ‘be an important actor.

It all started on October 9, two days after the Hamas terrorist attacks against Israel. The Hungarian commissioner in charge of European neighborhood policy, Olivér Várhelyi, declares that the European executive will re-examine its development aid for the Palestinians (1.2 billion euros, 33% of the Palestinian budget), specifying that all Payments were “immediately suspended”. First outcry in several European capitals. It took several hours for the European Commission to backpedal and clarify that humanitarian funds would continue to be paid. On Wednesday, more than 70 members of the European Parliament called for the resignation of Olivér Várhelyi.

To this first hiccup that she let pass, Ursula von der Leyen added another, on October 13. While she does not have EU foreign policy competence, the President of the Commission, without warning the President of the European Council Charles Michel or the head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell, intrudes on the flight of the President of the European Parliament to go to Tel Aviv. After a meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu, she declares that Israel has “the right” and even “the duty to defend its population”, without saying a word of compassion for the inhabitants of Gaza, nor affirming that Israel must respect international law and be measured in its response. These declarations are seen in the Arab world as an unconditional alignment of the EU with Israel’s position. A devastating effect that the Commission is trying to make up for by announcing €50 million in aid… On Sunday, the 27 published a press release to reiterate their position: Israel has the right to defend itself in compliance with international law and the EU is always in favor of two states.

But last Monday, a new blunder: Von der Leyen announced the establishment of a humanitarian airlift to Gaza… without having the essential agreement from Egypt.

We will have to wait until Tuesday’s European Council for the EU to finally have a clear position.

By taking herself for a “President of Europe” which she is not, Ursula von der Leyen has crossed red lines, which raises the question of her renewal in 2024 at the head of the European Commission.

In the meantime, she will have to manage the rebellion among EU officials, more than 700 of whom have signed a petition against her positions on Israel, saying that she “We urge you to call, with the leaders of the whole of the Union, a ceasefire and the protection of civilian life. This is at stake in the very essence of the EU’s existence [without which] the EU risks losing all credibility.” , they write. Never seen before in Brussels.

This article is originally published on .ladepeche.fr

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