Xavier Bettel, in his new role as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Cooperation and Foreign Trade, participated in the extraordinary meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, which was held on Monday 20 November 2023, by videoconference.
This extraordinary video conference was convened by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, to discuss the situation in Israel, Gaza and the region, following the trip of the High Representative in the region.
In his speech, Minister Bettel reiterated Israel's right to defend itself in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law, and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages held by Hamas.
The minister expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In this context, Minister Bettel welcomed France's organisation of the international humanitarian conference in Paris, which constituted a decisive step towards providing sufficient resources to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza. He stressed the importance of putting in place humanitarian pauses, while working for a cessation of hostilities.
Xavier Bettel also recalled the importance of ensuring that all forms of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and hate speech are combated - also here in Europe.
“We shouldn't have to 'choose a side', because our duty is to protect the most vulnerable. Indeed, the main thing is to put an end to the suffering of innocent civilians,” said Xavier Bettel, adding that “the ultimate goal must always be peace.”
Finally, Minister Bettel highlighted the importance of finding a political solution to this conflict: “It is absolutely essential that this cycle of violence, which has cost the lives of thousands of people, comes to an end and that a sustainable solution is found. It is also in Israel's interest. Therefore, the European Union must contribute to urgently relaunching the peace process and place it at the top of its agenda. We must never lose sight of the importance of finding a political settlement to this conflict which, for generations, has been a source of misery and sorrow for both Israelis and Palestinians. The two-state solution remains the only possible option for lasting peace. To achieve this, the EU must finally find a common position.”