Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs; Credit: MAEE

Luxembourg's Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Jean Asselborn, has called for an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of political talks to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Minister Jean Asselborn made the statement during an extraordinary meeting of European Union (EU) Foreign Ministers, which was held via videoconference on Tuesday 18 May 2021. The meeting, convened by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, was entirely devoted to the crisis in the Middle East and in particular to the escalation of violence in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.

In his speech, Luxembourg's Foreign Minister first condemned the shooting by Hamas and other terrorist groups against Israel, stating: “These shootings are unacceptable and must stop immediately. These are criminal acts that have already claimed the lives of ten Israeli citizens". He stressed that Israel has the right to defend itself in accordance with international humanitarian law by ensuring the protection of civilians, adding, however, that "the bombing of civilian infrastructure in Gaza, resulting in the death of at least 212 people, including 61 children and 36 women, is intolerable and cannot be justified in the context of self-defence”.

Luxembourg's Foreign Minister called for an immediate ceasefire and the resumption of political talks with a view to settling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Minister Jean Asselborn explained that the escalation of violence has been a symptom of a stubborn disease, i.e. occupation, since 1967. He recalled that Israeli colonisation systematically calls into question the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine. He remarked that "the events that have unfolded in recent weeks - the postponement of the Palestinian elections, especially the threat of eviction of Palestinian families who have lived for generations in Sheikh Jarrah, and the violence against the faithful in Haram al-Sharif during Ramadan - confirmed that the two-state solution is increasingly becoming a pipe dream”.

The Minister of Foreign and European Affairs lamented the fact that the Middle East peace process has been neglected in recent years; it turned out that relying on the development of economic relations between Israel and the Arab countries of the region does not guarantee peace and stability. Minister Jean Asselborn pleaded for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to become again a priority for the international community and for the EU: He concluded: “With the new American administration, which recognises the right of the Palestinians to live in freedom, dignity, security and prosperity, it should be possible to relaunch diplomatic efforts, for example within the framework of the Quartet. The European Union must speak with one voice - as it did between 2009 and 2016 - if it is to be included in this political process”.