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EU backing of Israel undermining its values and rule-based system, say staff

May 24, 2024 at 2:07 pm

European Union flags are seen waving outside the EU Commission Building in Brussels, Belgium. [Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency]

A group of over 200 staff members from various EU institutions and agencies have signed a letter expressing their growing unease regarding the European Union’s response to Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza, the Guardian has reported. The signatories argue that the EU’s stance is inconsistent with its fundamental values and its commitment to fostering peace.

The letter, addressed to the EU’s top officials and signed by the employees in their personal capacity as citizens, condemns Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and cautions that the EU’s indifference towards the suffering of Palestinians could contribute to the normalisation of a world order that prioritises force over a rule-based system.

Read US: Biden administration staffers call for ceasefire in Gaza

The letter shared exclusively with the Guardian and written by a group of staffers, warns that the EU’s “continued apathy to the plight of Palestinians” risks normalising a world order where the sheer use of force, rather than a rule-based system, determines state security, territorial integrity and political independence.

We couldn’t believe that our leaders who were so vocal about human rights and who described Europe as the beacon of human rights were suddenly so silent about the crisis unfolding in Gaza

the letter is reported saying. “It’s like suddenly we were asked to turn a blind eye on our values and on the values that we were allegedly working for. And for us, this was not acceptable.”

The letter highlights the many NGOs that have repeatedly called for a ceasefire, adding: “The EU’s inability to respond to these increasingly desperate calls is in clear contradiction with the values that the EU stands for and that we stand for.”

This initiative follows a recent demonstration in Brussels, where over 100 EU staffers protested against Israel’s military operation in Gaza, emphasising the need to uphold the rights, principles and values upon which the European institutions were founded.

Read: Dissatisfaction grows in Biden administration over support for Israel’s Gaza policies

Coordinators are said to have initially set a goal of collecting 100 signatures, but the response exceeded their expectations as news of the letter circulated rapidly among EU staff. When the letter was released to the public today, it did not disclose the identities of the signatories, as the organisers had assured them that their names would be kept confidential.

The letter calls upon the EU to take decisive action and to take steps to guarantee that its member states cease all direct and indirect arms exports to Israel. These measures, the staff members believe, are essential for the EU to uphold its core values and demonstrate its commitment to promoting peace and human rights in the region.

Read: Jewish staffer resigns from Biden administration amid ongoing US support for Israel’s Gaza offensive