For over a week, we have been witnessing one of the worst upsurges in violence in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory for many years. The grave escalation in and around Gaza, follows days of clashes in Jerusalem, including at the Haram al-Sharif / Temple Mount.
We are particularly dismayed at the large numbers of civilian deaths and injuries, including children, be it the result of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza or of indiscriminate rockets attacks launched from Gaza.
The fighting must stop. It must stop immediately. [..]
Let us be very clear: the European Union has condemned the indiscriminate launching of rockets towards Israeli civilians. It is unacceptable and must stop. We understand Israel’s right to protect its civilian population. Nevertheless, we expect its response to be proportionate, with maximum restraint in the use of force.
The European Union is working in every way it can to end the hostilities and to support the mediation efforts of the United Nations, Egypt and others. We will continue to work with all relevant parties and the international community, including through the [Middle East] Quartet, as a matter of urgency.
For everyone, the priority now must be immediate de-escalation in order to protect civilian lives. All sides must uphold international humanitarian law and provide for full humanitarian access. And all efforts should be directed at avoiding further civilian casualties and preventing the alarming loss of life we have seen thus far.
[..]The situation with regard to the eviction of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other areas of East Jerusalem also remains of serious concern. It is vital that Israel does not allow them to be carried out. Such actions are illegal under international law and only fuel tensions on the ground.
I conclude, Madam President, saying that both Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve to live in safety and security, enjoying equal rights, fundamental freedoms and democracy. A new date for Palestinian elections, held across all of the Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, must be set without delay.
There is still time to de-escalate and to prevent further loss of lives. The violence must end now. Right now.