EU has ‘lost credibility’ due to stance on Gaza, Varadkar says

Taoiseach warns EU leaders of damage to credibility among young people and around world

The European Union has “lost credibility” with young people and around the world due to its inability to take a stronger stance on the situation in Gaza, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

“I’m a huge believer in the European Union,” Mr Varadkar said on arrival to a crunch summit of EU leaders in Brussels. “But our inability to take a stronger and clearer position on the situation in Gaza, I think has undermined our credibility.”

The Taoiseach said he would tell fellow EU leaders at the summit that the union’s image had been damaged due to its inability to take a stronger and more united position on Israel and Palestine.

“We’ve lost credibility with the Global South, which actually is most of the world, because what is perceived to be double standards. And there’s some truth in that, quite frankly,” he told reporters.


“There is a major issue with young people, and the credibility that the European Union has among young people,” he continued, describing a “significant change” among young people towards having more sympathy with Palestinians than Israelis. “European leaders need to be wise to that.”

Mr Varadkar called for EU leaders to agree a joint statement that has “strong wording” condemning terrorism by Hamas, but that also “calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and calls for justice for Palestinian people”.

The outcome should be “a two-state solution which the European Union should be pushing and demanding, not just calling for,” he said.

Separately, Ireland has joined the rest of the European Union, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in issuing a statement expressing grave concern about the record number of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. Since the start of October, settlers have committed more than 343 violent attacks, killing eight Palestinian civilians, injuring more than 83, and forcing more than 1,000 Palestinians from their homes.

“We strongly condemn the violent acts committed by extremist settlers, which are terrorising Palestinian communities. We reiterate our position that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law and remind Israel of its obligations under international law, in particular Article 49 of Geneva Convention IV,” the statement said.

“This rise in extremist settler violence committed against Palestinians is unacceptable. Israel, as the occupying power, must protect the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank.”

Mr Varadkar said the violence “is being perpetrated by wild Israeli settlers who are trying to push Palestinians off their land”. He also called for sanctions to be placed on the funders of Hamas.

At a vote in the United Nations general assembly on Tuesday, Ireland was among 17 EU member states to vote in favour of a ceasefire. Eight countries abstained, while Austria and Czechia voted against. In a previous vote on a ceasefire in October, eight EU countries voted in favour while four voted against and most abstained.

“I think the centre of gravity within the European Union is moving closer to the position that Ireland has taken for some time, but still needs to move further, in my view,” the Taoiseach told reporters.

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Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary

Naomi O’Leary is Europe Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times