Middle East: UN calls for ceasefire in Gaza

The UN General Assembly has spoken out in favour of an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip so that basic necessities can be provided to the thousands of displaced persons in the area who are freezing and starving. Israel has once again stressed that the radical Islamic Hamas organisation is using people as shields and that the fighting will continue until it is defeated. Commentators bemoan the lack of plans for what comes after.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Many arguments in favour

The West must crank up the pressure on Israel, Corriere della Sera demands:

“Israel's weakness is that after 67 days of war, its leadership has still not said how it envisages peace, or who will replace Hamas once it is - hopefully - defeated. ... So the time has come for the US and Europe to show Israel the way to a ceasefire. ... Europe has tried this from time to time, albeit without a common strategy or effective arguments. The US, on the other hand, has many arguments, from its massive deliveries of ammunition and equipment to the danger of the conflict spreading to the north with Hezbollah and to the Red Sea with the Houthis in Yemen. ... It is true that Israel has the right to defend itself. But the West also has a stake in the Middle East.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

The terrorists have won

Israel seems unlikely to achieve a decisive victory over Hamas, Phileleftheros believes:

“On the contrary, the terrorist organisation is on the verge of being able to boast that it has taken on one of the most powerful armies in the world and not only not bowed to it, but inflicted enormous pain and damage. The situation seems to be heading in the direction that many analysts had predicted: with its attack on 7 October, Hamas has dragged Israel into a war that it can hardly win. Of course it has suffered losses, of course it has brought about the destruction of the Gaza Strip, of course the Palestinians are suffering. But that doesn't matter to the terrorist organisation. ... Hamas will most likely continue to exist, and perhaps even be strengthened - at least ideologically.”

De Standaard (BE) /

Push for adherence to law and dignity

De Standaard sees a task for Belgium, which takes over the EU Council's rotating presidency on 1 January:

“The ball is in the court of the international community - above all the European Union, the Palestinians' biggest donor. This will therefore be a task for Belgium's EU presidency. With his peace mission [he travelled to Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian territories with Pedro Sánchez at the end of November], Prime Minister De Croo has shown that Belgium is willing to do its bit. ... If Israel has no plan for an end to the war, or no plan that is reasonably acceptable to the rest of the world, it will be Belgium's inalienable duty to bring human dignity, the laws of war and international law back into play.”