The EU’s Foreign Affairs official criticised Israel for diverting attention away from the worsening humanitarian crises in Gaza.
Reports have emerged from the Guardian that a senior European Union official has lambasted plans brought forward by Israel’s Foreign Minister for Palestinians to live on an artificial island off of Gaza’s coast.
According to the Guardian, the suggestion was made by Israel’s Foreign Minister, Israel Katz, during the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council session on Monday.
The bloc’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has lambasted this proposal.
Borrell said Monday’s forum was for EU representatives and regional partners to discuss his “comprehensive approach,” which he says roadmaps a viable two-state solution process.
In press remarks after the meeting, Borrell said Katz showcased “interesting videos,” presenting a project for an artificial island project to be built off of Gaza’s coast.
Another video reportedly showed a proposed railink that would connect Israel with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain and the UAE.
Arab delegates, such as the Saudi, Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers, were also present at the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council session as the bloc’s regional partners.
‘Waste of time’
Borrell added in his press remarks that Katz’s proposals were “irrelevant” to the discussions.
Instead, he could have, “used his time better to worry about the situation in his country or the high death toll in Gaza.”
The latest figures from Palestine’s Health Ministry estimate that since October 7, the death toll in Gaza stands at least 25,295 people.
At least 63,000 Palestinians are also estimated to have been left injured by Israel’s air, land and sea offensives.
However, according to The New Arab, Katz hinted his proposal would reverse Gaza’s humanitarian crisis.
He said during Monday’s meeting, “The demilitarization and stabilization of Gaza, with Israel maintaining security control to protect our people.”
He also claimed that doing so would open up new economic opportunities in the region for all people — including Palestinians.
Recent developments tell a different story, despite Katz’s claims.
According to a briefing note by the ACAPS NGO, in November, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories revoked the right to work permits of 18,500 Palestinian labourers.
Many Palestinian labourers were imprisoned in Israel and the occupied West Bank due to no longer having valid documentation to move freely within or live and work in Israel.
Human Rights Watch said the sudden cancellation of their work permits left many Palestinians in legal limbo in Israel and vulnerable to harassment from Israeli police.
A history of controversial proposals
Inflammatory rhetoric from Israel calling for “voluntary migration” of Palestinians isn’t at all new.
In December, the Israel Hayom news outlet reported that Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the “voluntary migration” of Gazans from their homeland in a closed-door meeting with Likud lawmakers.
Jan Egeland, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Secretary General, fired back at such rhetoric.
In a news release, Egeland said that if forcibly actioned, Israel could be liable for committing a war crime.
Katz has also historically advocated for the creation of an artificial island for Palestinians.
In 2011, the Guardian quoted Katz, who said, “We have built models and there are many entrepreneurs who are interested and prepared to invest billions and make money.”
The plans proposed by Katz in 2011 suggested an international military presence to “control” the island for at least 100 years.
This initial idea was backed by Israel’s Prime Minister, the Guardian reported.