EU foreign ministers discuss sanctions against Israel

EU foreign ministers discuss sanctions against Israel

Politico reports:

EU foreign ministers have for the first time engaged in a “significant” discussion on sanctioning Israel if it doesn’t comply with international humanitarian law, Irish Foreign Minister Micheál Martin said Monday.

“There was a very clear consensus about the need to uphold the international humanitarian legal institutions,” Martin told reporters following the Foreign Affairs Council.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled Friday that Israel must immediately halt its offensive in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, and open the Rafah border crossing to allow humanitarian aid to enter the enclave unimpeded.

Israel subsequently continued its operations in Rafah, however, and on Sunday bombed a refugee camp, killing at least 45 Palestinians, over half of whom were women, children and elderly people, according to Gaza health authorities. The strikes were broadly condemned by EU leaders.

“For the first time at an EU meeting, in a real way, I’ve seen significant discussion on sanctions and ‘what if,’” Martin said. He qualified that there is “some distance between people articulating the need for a sanctions-based approach if Israel does not comply with the ICJ’s ruling … to agreement in the Council meeting, given all of the different perspectives there.”

“But there is a lot of concern … amongst member states in respect of what is a clear situation where the ICJ have ruled, made provisional orders, and the EU has always upheld the independence of that court and the need for nations to comply with it,” he said. [Continue reading…]

Reuters reports:

Israel’s military denied striking a tent camp west of Rafah on Tuesday after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in an area Israel has designated a civilian evacuation zone.

Earlier, defying an appeal from the International Court of Justice, Israeli tanks advanced to the heart of Rafah for the first time after a night of heavy bombardment, while Spain, Ireland and Norway officially recognised a Palestinian state, a move that further deepened Israel’s international isolation.

The United States, Israel’s closest ally, reiterated its opposition to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah but said it did not believe such an operation was under way.

Two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp stirred global condemnation, Gaza emergency services said four tank shells on Tuesday hit a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal strip Israel designated as an expanded humanitarian zone where it advised civilians in Rafah to go for safety.

At least 12 of the dead on Tuesday were women, according to medical officials in the Hamas militant-run Palestinian enclave. [Continue reading…]

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