The Malta Independent 17 July 2024, Wednesday
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Malta calls on Israel to protect civilians in Gaza

Monday, 24 June 2024, 18:19 Last update: about 22 days ago

As Israel seeks to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas, it must make every effort to protect civilians in Gaza, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade Ian Borg said.

"Not doing so represents a moral failure and a breach of international law, whilst indirectly strengthening Hamas and its narrative," he added, during the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg on Monday.

"Whilst we recognise Israel's right to defend itself in accordance with international law, against the very real and continued threat posed by Hamas, the humanitarian needs of Gaza's civilian population cannot be met in the absence of an immediate ceasefire. We will also continue to reiterate our call for the release of all hostages, immediately and unconditionally," said Minister Ian Borg.

Referring to the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the Minister welcomed the outcome of the Summit on Peace in Ukraine held earlier this month in Switzerland, in which he joined the leaders of 100 states and international organisations in his role as the 2024 Chair-in-Office of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Minister Borg called on other Member States to continue building on the Summit's momentum to increase global support. "We must engage with countries that may have an alternative reading of what the peace process should look like, while stressing that the ambition remains for all parties to be involved. Peace can only be possible if it is based on the founding principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity as enshrined in international law, including the UN Charter," he concluded.

On Monday, the Council also approved new sanctions on Russia and its war in Ukraine, including, among others, anti-circumvention measures prohibiting Member States from providing services to vessels that form part of the Russian shadow fleet. During negotiations on this new package of sanctions, Malta secured several conditions to safeguard the national interests of small island Member States that are highly dependent on shipping for their imports.

The Foreign Affairs Council's agenda on Monday also included talks with the foreign ministers of the Western Balkan states, as well as an update on the situation in Georgia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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