Ν. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The EU communication about the war between Israel and Hamas was contradictory and confusing. Of course the EU cannot ignore it. But it is one thing to determine that this conflict concerns the EU and it is quite another to formulate a proper response.
The visit to Israel by Commission President Von der Leyen led to confusing communications. It was absolutely not necessary to immediately take a plane to the conflict region. Several member states expressed unpleasant surprise at the president’s action. She should have known that her visit to Israel would not be appreciated by everyone. In an extremely complex and sensitive issue like this, it is like walking on eggshells. She could have expressed support through diplomatic channels. On top of that, due to the displeasure the visit had caused, von der Leyen had to correct her strong pro-Israel statements the next day by promising more money for the Palestinians in Gaza.
The communication from various Commissioners about whether or not to continue financial support to the Palestinians was also confusing. Where was the strong hand of the President, who often dictates tone and text for the Commissioners in even less important cases?
The inevitable conclusion is that the Commission should adopt a slightly more cautious approach. Its position means that their actions must be in function of who they represent, as much as of what they themselves think. In some cases, subdued silence may even be the most appropriate attitude. Especially when the subject is in the first place the competence of the European Council and its President Charles Michel, and Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs.