EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell indirectly called on the US to stop supplying arms to Israel. In Brussels on Monday, he referred to US President Joe Biden’s statement last week that Israel’s response to the Hamas attack was excessive. “If you think too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide fewer weapons to prevent so many people from dying,” Borrell said.
At the same time, the former Spanish foreign minister criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not doing enough to protect civilians. “Everyone is going to Tel Aviv and begging not to do this, to save civilians, not to kill so many people,” Borrell said, clearly upset. “How many are too many? What is the bar? Netanyahu isn’t listening to anyone anymore.” Netanyahu announced that Rafah would be evacuated. Borrell asked, “To where? To the moon? Where do they want to take these people safely?” said.
Israel itself states that measures are being taken to protect civilians in Gaza. But at the same time, the army is forced to advance towards civilian areas where Hamas operates. The United States is Israel’s main arms supplier, providing $3.8 billion worth of weapons annually. The Washington administration has so far not responded to calls to reduce this aid.
Borrell also touched upon the decision of a court in the Netherlands that stopped the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel. The court justified this with concerns that warplanes equipped with them could be used in the Gaza war, contrary to international law. It is paradoxical that states repeatedly declare that too many people are being killed in Gaza, but at the same time do nothing about it. The government must comply with this order within seven days. The court rejected the government’s request to suspend enforcement of the export ban pending an appeal to the Supreme Court.
“The delivery of US F-35 parts to Israel is not unfair,” said Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen. F-35s are vital to Israel’s security and its ability to defend itself against threats in the region “such as Iran, Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.” It is too early to assess what impact the decision will have: “We are part of a large consortium of countries that also work with Israel, and we will talk to our partners about how we can deal with this.” For this reason, the government announced that it had appealed to the Supreme Court.
The case against the Dutch government was filed in December 2023 by several human rights groups, including the Dutch subsidiary of the charity Oxfam. The Netherlands hosts one of several regional warehouses for US F-35 parts. From there, it is distributed to countries that request it, including Israel in at least one shipment since radical Islamist Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7.