The agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council on 28 May was determined before the climax of the violence in Gaza on 14 May, but I requested that the Council should nonetheless discuss these tragic and destabilizing events. Accordingly, it was discussed by Ministers in informal format over lunch.Many Ministers expressed their deep concern at the disproportionate use of force by Israel, and the appalling number of casualties. These concerns had already been expressed in EU and national statements, and at the UN Human Rights Council, where Ireland and others supported a successful resolution which will, inter alia, establish a commission of inquiry into these events. In my intervention I also argued strongly that events such as this will only recur if the vicious cycle in Gaza is not broken. It was essential not to despair of progress in Gaza but instead to redouble our efforts to find practical ways to begin to ease the situation there and provide hope. The inhabitants of Gaza must be able to see a political and economic perspective to end the blockade and end their isolation, otherwise more militant voices and groups will inevitably be strengthened.
The meeting also discussed humanitarian assistance, the difficult position of UNRWA, the recent move of the United States Embassy, and the prospects for a peace initiative by the US.