BRUSSELS (AP) — European lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas, on the condition that the Palestinian militant group in Gaza be dismantled and that all hostages it holds be released.
The conflict has divided European Union countries and political groups at the legislature, and reaching a consensus on the wording of the resolution was not an easy task.
The original text underlined the need for a permanent cease-fire. It was adopted after an amendment tabled by conservative lawmakers was passed, insisting that Hamas needed to be dismantled for a cease-fire to happen and calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all remaining hostages.
The resolution, which is non-binding and highly symbolical, was adopted by 312 votes in favor, 131 against and 72 abstentions. It was the first time the Parliament called for a cease-fire after lawmakers in October agreed on a call for a “humanitarian pause.”
The amendment insisted that all the hostages be “immediately and unconditionally released and (that) the terrorist organization Hamas is dismantled.”
Palestinian militants are still putting up resistance across Gaza in the face of one of the deadliest military campaigns in recent history. More than 24,400 Palestinians have been killed. Some 85% of the narrow coastal territory’s 2.3 million people have fled their homes, and the United Nations says a quarter of the population is starving.
Israel has vowed to dismantle Hamas to ensure it can never repeat an attack like the one on Oct. 7 that triggered the war. Militants burst through Israel’s border defenses and stormed through several communities that day, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and capturing around 250, taking them back to Gaza as hostages.
Since the attack, the bloc has struggled to strike a balance between condemning Hamas, supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and ensuring that the rights of civilians on both sides are protected under international law.
Hamas is on the EU’s list of terrorist groups.
European lawmakers also expressed their “deep concern at the dire and rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip” and asked for the moribund “two-state solution” between Israel and Palestinians to be revived, and for the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.