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US, French, Irish diplomats flock to Middle East with focus on Gaza aid

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell, French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu and senior American officials are visiting Israel and the region in a bid to advance humanitarian aid for Gaza.

American and European diplomats are accelerating contacts with Israel and other countries in the region in a push for an extended humanitarian pause in Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid.

EU chief: European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell arrived Thursday for his first-ever official visit in Israel since taking office in 2019, expressing his solidarity with the pain of Israelis following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, while calling on Israeli authorities to expand humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

Israel had systematically refused for the past four years to invite Borrell for a visit over his alleged bias against Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. In May, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen traveled to Brussels and met with Borrell. The two men agreed to renew the Israel-EU association agreement council encompassing the legal and political framework for relations and for Borrell to visit the country. 

Speaking on Thursday after visiting kibbutz Be’eri, where 130 residents were killed Oct. 7 by Hamas attackers, Borrell stressed the European Union’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself. "Hamas has to be defeated, but Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people," Borrell said. He added though that Hamas' attack should not be used as justification for killings in Gaza. "One horror does not justify another. Innocent people, including thousands of children, have died [in Gaza] in the past few weeks. We also know that people are forced to leave their houses and need assistance. They need water, food, fuel and protection." 

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