British Foreign Secretary David Cameron and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Sunday called for a “sustainable cease-fire” in the Middle East, lamenting that “too many civilians have been killed” in the Israel-Hamas war.
In a joint article in the Sunday Times, Baerbock and Cameron made clear that: “We do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate cease-fire, hoping it somehow becomes permanent, is the way forward.”
“We must do all we can to pave the way to a sustainable cease-fire, leading to a sustainable peace,” they said.
The article represents a significant shift in the U.K.’s stance on the conflict in Gaza. The British government has called for a “humanitarian pause” in the fighting, but has stopped short of urging a cease-fire. Germany has staunchly defended Israel’s right to defend itself since the attacks by Hamas on October 7.
Last Tuesday, both Germany and the U.K. abstained from voting on the U.N. General Assembly’s call for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire” in the Gaza Strip — which passed by 153 to 10 with 23 abstentions.
“Our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today. It must be peace lasting for days, years, generations,” the two ministers said in their article, stressing that they support “a cease-fire, but only if it is sustainable.”
The international calls for an immediate cease-fire are “an understandable reaction to such intense suffering, and we share the view that this conflict cannot drag on and on,” Baerbock and Cameron wrote. That is why the two governments “supported the recent humanitarian pauses” and are “pushing the diplomatic effort to agree further pauses to get more aid in and more hostages out,” they said.
“Only extremists like Hamas want us stuck in an endless cycle of violence, sacrificing more innocent lives for their fanatical ideology,” the two ministers wrote.
However, “the Israeli government should do more to discriminate sufficiently between terrorists and civilians, ensuring its campaign targets Hamas leaders and operatives,” Cameron and Baerbock said.
“We do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate cease-fire, hoping it somehow becomes permanent, is the way forward” because “it ignores why Israel is forced to defend itself: Hamas barbarically attacked Israel and still fires rockets to kill Israeli citizens every day,” they said. Baerbock and Cameron prefer “a sustainable cease-fire, leading to a sustainable peace. The sooner it comes, the better — the need is urgent,” they said.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, meanwhile, on Sunday urged an “immediate and durable” truce in the Gaza Strip. Speaking in Tel Aviv during a meeting with her Israeli counterpart, Eli Cohen, Colonna said that “the truce should lead to a lasting cease-fire with the aim of releasing all hostages and delivering aid to Gaza.”