A group of EU civil servants have penned a letter expressing ‘’growing internal anger” and “disagreement within the Brussels institutions” about the European Union’s policy on Israel and the war in Gaza.
According to the EU Observer, a Brussels-based publication on EU affairs which is usually very critical of Israel, the civil servants ‘’made an unprecedented call to end all support for Israel over the Gaza onslaught.’’
The letter, which was addressed to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, whose country currently chairs the Council of the EU, complains that concerns the officials privately expressed “were overruled by political and ideological considerations” and they therefore “are obliged to do everything in our power on behalf of our countries and ourselves to not be complicit in one of the worst human catastrophes of this century.”
The letter states that the number of people Israel has killed in Gaza since October 7 is “almost as high as the total number of employees of the European Commission”. It calls for a European arms embargo and the suspension of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Israel. ‘’EU decision-makers have failed to use the means at their disposal to influence the Israeli leadership to comply with its obligations under international law, including its obligations as an ‘occupying power'”, says the letter.
‘’It is now time for the EU to use all the levers at its disposal to, literally, “put an end to military operations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories by taking measures similar to those taken against Russia,’’ it adds.
The letter was drafted as EU leaders met Thursday for a special summit in Brussels. According to the letter, the officials that endorsed it hail from 12 different countries and EU institutions.
For the EU Observer, the letter is just “the latest sign of the anger and frustration of EU staff over the policy’s Gaza policy”.
There was already a similar letter in October that made big waves in the media. 800 EU employees then wrote to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and expressed their displeasure at the, in their opinion, far too strong support for Israel’s cause expressed during her visit to the country in the aftermath of the October 7 massacres committed by Hamas.
According to Juedische Allgemeine, the letter was not only signed by EU officials but also by trainees, students at the College of Europe in Bruges and other people who can hardly be described as “Commission staff”.
‘’For example, an Italian trainee in the Migration and Human Security Division of the EEAS sent the petition to large distribution lists within the institutions and beyond. She used her work email address and provided the EEAS postal address,’’ the publication wrote.
The email, written in English, reads: “As the EU has not made any significant change in its policy regarding the war on Gaza, we would like to address the Belgian Presidency with a set of clear recommendations for the EU to use its influence to uphold international law in Israel/the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”