A conditional ceasefire is not sufficient – The EU must call for an unconditional, immediate and permanent ceasefire

On January 18, the European Parliament approved its first resolution in relation to the war on Gaza calling for a permanent  ceasefire. Since the start of the conflict, both Palestinian and international civil society have been urging for an urgent ceasefire.

This request comes amid a mounting toll of casualties and escalating devastation in Gaza. The conditional resolution from the European Parliament comes late, as the Israeli war against Palestinians has been taking place for over 100 days, with 24.000 Gazans dead and over 60.000 wounded.  

The legislative branch of the EU came short of calling for an immediate ceasefire, withholding its call to the immediate release of the Israeli hostages currently held in the Gaza strip and, even more concerning, to the dismantling of Hamas.  

This conditionality comes in light of the forced displacement of 85% of Gaza population, the evidence of war crimes being committed and, the ongoing case in the International Court of Justice claiming acts of genocide being committed against the Gazan population by Israel.  Nevertheless, despite the gravity of the situation, the EU was incapable of calling for an immediate, permanent and unconditional ceasefire. Conditioning the ceasefire to the dismantling of Hamas is, in effect, giving a green light to the ongoing war. Although Israeli authorities claim the total elimination of Hamas as their objective, the more than a hundred-day long massacre of Gazans proves otherwise.  By establishing this condition, the European Parliament appears to legitimize Israel’s express reasoning for the violence it has unleashed and continues to do so over Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians every day. The actual intent of the Israeli government has also been put into question under South Africa’s Preliminary measures to the International Court of Justice, where the applicant has pointed out credible claims of intent to commit genocide by the Israeli government against the Gaza population. As an example of this potential intent, one in every 20 Gazans has been killed, injured or has gone missing since the start of the bombings.  

Furthermore, a call for conditioning the ceasefire to the release of hostages, although an apparently humanitarian call, only puts said hostages in greater danger. Since the beginning of the war, the Israeli army has already killed three hostages after misidentifying them as threats. Other hostages have been claimed to be killed following Israeli bombardments, and such a possibility is not to be disregarded considering the massive bombardments in civilian areas taking place since the beginning of the war.  

In conclusion, the EU Parliament’s conditional call fails to de-escalate the conflict in all its flanks by pursuing the release of hostages through diplomatic means and ensuring the end of civilian casualties and the ongoing attacks against Gaza. Considering the credible claims of war crimes, forced displacement and ethnic cleansing taking place, we urge the European Parliament to call for an immediate, permanent and unconditional ceasefire, the only way forward if a human rights-based solution in the region wants to be achieved.