Egyptian and Irish foreign ministers urge EU to push for Gaza truce in Cairo meeting

Sameh Shoukry and his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin call for an end to the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza

Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, left, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Egypt and Ireland have called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza where a humanitarian crisis is worsening by the hour amid an ongoing Israeli siege of the enclave.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin met in Cairo on Wednesday and called for a more pronounced response from EU countries towards the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

Mr Shoukry accused the EU of having double standards in its response to Israel’s war on Gaza and called on European leaders to denounce the siege of the enclave with the same fervour that they have condemned other similar cases of civilians being indiscriminately attacked around the world.

“In the case of Gaza, the EU does not seem to be committed to accurately describing what is happening there. What we are calling for is a clear condemnation of the killing of civilians and what is clearly a major breach of international humanitarian law,” Mr Shoukry said.

Mr Martin asked the EU to clearly condemn Israel’s war on Gaza.

“Ireland has already condemned what is happening in Gaza and we are calling for a more unified response to stop this humanitarian crisis,” Mr Martin said.

“There are children dying and there are civilians dying. This war needs to stop.”

However, the Irish diplomat also said Arab countries have not been able to reach a unified response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza, pointing to recent abstentions by several Arab states at a Riyadh summit earlier this month.

A proposal to implement an arms embargo against Israel was not approved because of two abstentions.

Another proposal by Algeria and Iran, whose president Ebrahim Raisi visited Riyadh for the summit, to halt ties with Israel completely until the war was over, was rejected by a number of Arab states.

Despite not having a strong stance on a political level, the EU has been one of the highest providers of aid to Gaza, Mr Martin said.

He and Mr Shoukry stressed the importance of creating a Palestinian state based on the agreed 1967 borders.

“While this one war might end, the real struggle here will not end until Palestinians have their own state and negotiations on this matter have been going for 30 years but no action is ever taken," Mr Shoukry said.

"Now is the time for action and for the formation of a Palestinian state.

“We must never forget that while this war has been going on since October 7, Israel’s occupation of Palestine has been a fact there for over half a century.”

The minister denied claims Egypt had not fully opening its Rafah border crossing with Gaza, to enable the delivery of aid and the evacuation of Palestinians.

“Such claims have no basis in reality and don’t take into consideration the humanitarian situation on the ground. They are also political in nature,” Mr Shoukry said.

Cairo maintained that its Rafah border crossing with Egypt has remained open since the war began and that delays in the delivery of aid and the evacuation of wounded Gazans and foreign nationals were largely due to Israel’s tight control over the Gaza strip and the closed-door negotiations between all concerned parties.

Israel's barrage on the Gaza strip in addition to its continuing ground operation has laid waste to large areas of the enclave .

More than 11,200 Palestinians have died in the Israeli strikes, including at least 3,600 children.

About 1,200 Israelis were killed when Hamas launched attacks in Israel on October 7.

Updated: November 15, 2023, 2:43 PM