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EU fails to agree on joint statement on ceasefire in Israeli-Palestine conflict

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EU foreign ministers failed to agree on a joint statement on Tuesday that demands an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Palestine because of a veto by Hungary, Anadolu News Agency reported.

"The priority is the immediate cessation of all violence and the implementation of a cease-fire, not only to agree to implement the ceasefire," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at a news conference following an extraordinary meeting of EU top diplomats.

He said the group wanted to release a conclusion after a videoconference, explaining the bloc's common position on the conflict, but 26 of the 27 member states supported the text.

Borrell later confirmed that it was Hungary who blocked the statement. He said the remaining countries called for an immediate cease-fire with the "purpose to protect civilians and to give full humanitarian access to Gaza."

Borrell stressed that "the upsurge of violence in the past days has led to a high number of civilian casualties, deaths and injured" and an "unacceptable" high number of children among the victims.

"We condemn the rocket attacks by Hamas, a terrorist group on the Israel territory, and we fully support Israel's right to self-defense," he said, but "it has to be done in a proportionate manner and respecting international humanitarian law."

According to Reuters, at least eight smaller EU states, led by Luxembourg and including Belgium, Ireland, Malta and Finland, are vocal defenders of the Palestinians. Several Belgian lawmakers called this week for EU travel bans and asset freezes on Israeli politicians over the violence.

Germany, which still carries a burden of guilt over the Nazi crimes of World War Two, is unwilling to discuss coercive measures against Israel, but pledged 40 million euros ($49 million) on Tuesday in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.

Others, including Hungary, the Czech Republic, Austria, Greece, Cyprus and Poland, are more ready to speak out in Israel's favo, Reuters said adding: Austria flew an Israeli flag over the federal chancellery in Vienna on Friday and in Hungary's nationalist prime minister, Viktor Orban, Netanyahu has found an ally prepared to block statements or actions critical of Israel.

Palestinians rally to demand end to Israeli attacks on Gaza

Thousands of Palestinians staged rallies in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday to protest the ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.

The rallies came amid a general strike staged across the occupied territory and Arab towns in Israel, in what organizers termed as a "day of anger" over Israeli assaults, according to Anadolu News Agency.

"The Palestinian people proved to be united against oppression, occupation and aggression," Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of Fatah's Central Committee, said during a rally in central Ramallah.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral procession for a 17-year-old Palestinian, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes in Hebron on Monday.

Palestinians also staged a protest near Israel-controlled Huwara checkpoint in Nablus to demand an end to Israeli attacks in Gaza.

At least 213 Palestinians have been killed, including 61 children and 36 women, and 1,442 others injured in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip since May 10, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. In the West Bank, 22 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces since last week.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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