German, Czech, Slovakian FMs head to Jerusalem to show support
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German, Czech, Slovakian FMs head to Jerusalem to show support

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Three European foreign ministers are expected to visit Israel this week, days after the EU Foreign Affairs Committee failed to reach an agreed-upon statement on the fighting between Israel and Hamas.

Foreign ministers Heiko Maas, Jakub Kulhanek and Ivan Korcok of Germany, Czech Republic and Slovakia, respectively, plan to visit Israel on Thursday, on invitation from their Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry characterized the trip as a way to “express solidarity and support,” and said more are expected to arrive next week for the same reason, and as part of the ministry’s efforts to strengthen Israel’s international legitimacy in Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The ministers are expected to meet with Ashkenazi and then visit sites where Hamas missiles struck.

“This is further proof of the broad support and legitimacy Israel has from the nations of the world throughout the days of fighting, thanks to the diplomatic efforts led by Israeli ambassadors around the world and Foreign Ministry workers in Jerusalem,” Ashkenazi said.

The German, Czech and Slovak Foreign Ministries did not release a statement about the planned visit.

On Tuesday, Maas said “the shooting must now finally stop…Ending the ongoing violence in the Middle East is our first priority. But we also need to talk about how we can avoid future escalations.”

Korčok similarly said his country “strongly condemns” the rocket fire from Gaza and supported Israel’s right to defend itself, but called for “an immediate de-escalation and the exercise of maximum restraint.”

Greek Foreign Ministry Nikos Dendias visited Israel on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council did not reach a joint statement on the ongoing fighting between Israel and terrorist groups in Gaza.

EU High Representative Josep Borrell gave a statement of his own soon after the meeting, which he said represented the general thrust of what had been discussed. It included a call for ceasefire and a condemnation of Hamas rockets, as well as the high number of civilian casualties, and a call for Israel to use “proportionate” force and respect international law.

Hungary vetoed an official statement, which must be made by consensus, because of its implied criticism of Israel, while other countries, like Ireland, felt it did not go far enough and called to take active steps against Israel.

Some countries’ representatives lamented that the EU continues to send aid money into Gaza without knowing where it ends up and without having any influence on Hamas, KAN reported.

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