EU’s Borrell urges enforcement of UN court order on Israel offensive

BRUSSELS – EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Monday a UN court ruling telling Israel to stop its offensive in Gaza’s Rafah must be implemented, as European ministers met Arab counterparts in Brussels.

Israel has continued to strike Rafah as its government has dismissed Friday’s ruling from the International Court of Justice. 

Hamas and the Palestinian Authority said Israeli strikes on a centre for displaced people killed dozens near the southern city of Rafah on Sunday, while the Israeli army said it had targeted Hamas militants. 

“We have to express not only respect, but to ask for the implementation of the decision of the court,” Borrell said at the start of the meeting in Brussels.  

“This is really a dilemma how the international community can… force implementation of the decision.” 

EU foreign ministers were holding talks Monday with their counterparts from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar as part of a diplomatic push for a two-state solution after the Gaza war.  

“We will hear their vision on how to support Palestine and Palestinian authorities, and how to revitalise the political process,” Borrell said. 

The push for a Palestinian state gained momentum last week when EU countries Ireland and Spain — and ally Norway — said they’d recognise the State of Palestine. 

But the move also underscored divisions within the 27-nation EU, which has struggled to reach a unified position on the war in Gaza.

One area where the EU could play a practical role on the ground after the war is the possible monitoring of the Rafah border crossing from Gaza to Egypt. 

Borrell said EU ministers would discuss relaunching a mission suspended back in 2007 to monitor the crossing after calls for it to do so from regional players including Israel. 

The EU’s top diplomat said he expected to get a preliminary mandate from ministers to press ahead with planning for the mission. 

“But it’s not only us who have to decide — the Egyptians, Palestinian Israelis,” he said. 

“We need to increase the number of staff and we need to have an agreement with everybody involved.”

The war in Gaza was sparked by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. –AFP