Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Foreign Trade, Minister for Development Cooperation & Humanitarian Affairs; Credit: © SIP / Claude Piscitelli

Luxembourg's Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, Defence, Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade has reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Xavier Bettel, is paying a working visit to Israel and Palestine from Tuesday 28 to Wednesday 29 May 2024.

As part of this trip, Minister Bettel will travel to Jerusalem and Ramallah, where meetings are planned with members of the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, as well as with representatives of international organisations and civil society.

One day earlier, Minister Bettel had taken part in the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) of the European Union in Brussels, where EU ministers discussed the situation in the Middle East, among other topics. Minister Bettel was reported to have expressed his deep concern over the situation in the Gaza Strip.

The FAC on Monday 27 May 2024 began with an informal exchange of views via video conference with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, before turning to the topic of continued EU support for Ukraine.

EU ministers then exchanged views on the subject of the Middle East with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, as well as as with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States. The development of the situation in the region, particularly in the Gaza Strip, was also the subject of an internal discussion between EU ministers. According to the foreign ministry, Minister Bettel was "very concerned" over Israel's continued Rafah offensive as well as by the recent attacks by extremist settlers against humanitarian aid convoys.

"Tens of thousands of civilians have once again been uprooted and do not know where to take refuge. The protection of civilians on all sides and the release of hostages remains our top priority. This is why an immediate humanitarian ceasefire must be established in the Gaza Strip and we must support all efforts in this direction, both at European and bilateral level," stressed Minister Bettel. While humanitarian assistance via land is almost at a standstill, the minister also argued that Israel must allow the reopening of the Rafah crossing point for aid access and facilitate the distribution of humanitarian aid inside Gaza.

Regarding the recent judgment of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning the Israel's Rafah offensive, Minister Bettel recalled the importance of respecting the decisions of international bodies: "For Luxembourg, as a member state of the United Nations, it is obvious that international law applies equally to everyone. And it is precisely this respect that we must continue to uphold as an international community. Israel must implement without delay the provisional measures decided by the Court."

The FAC agenda also included discussions on the current situation in Georgia, Venezuela and Haiti.

On the sidelines of the FAC, Minister Bettel had a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Retno Marsudi.