The European Parliament has for the first time called for a “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza and the start of political efforts to find a solution to the war between Israel and Hamas.
The resolution, which is purely symbolic and carries no legal weight, was approved with 312 votes in favour, 131 against and 72 abstentions in Strasbourg’s plenary chamber on Thursday after a compromise was made to appease centre-right lawmakers.
The ceasefire plea represents a significant shift in the Parliament’s previous position, agreed in October, which called for a humanitarian “pause” to step up the flow of aid reaching Gaza’s civilians. That vote passed with 500 votes in favour, 21 against and 24 abstentions.
The sharpened call comes as the Gaza death toll tops 24,000, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
While the hemicycle’s left-leaning and centrist groups had openly backed the ceasefire call, members of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the largest group in the chamber, had expressed reservations.
The resolution passed after an amendment was approved specifying that a ceasefire should be conditional on the release of all hostages held in Gaza and the “dismantling” of Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organisation in the EU.
“Sustainable peace cannot exist as long as Hamas and other terrorist groups hijack the Palestinian cause and threat the existence of Israel, the only democracy in the region,” Antonio López-Istúriz, MEP for the EPP group, told the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Several versions of the text were filed in anticipation of the vote, reflecting the variety of viewpoints across the hemicycle.
In a sign of the difficult political wrangling that was needed to get the resolution over the line, Hilde Vautmans, a Belgian MEP for Renew Europe urged the hemicycle to find unity after hours of negotiations over the past days.
She said ahead of the vote that the EU’s “international credibility” was at stake.
The bloc’s 27 leaders have not yet unanimously agreed to call for a ceasefire, despite pleas from countries such as Belgium, Ireland and Spain. So far, their official line remains focused on “humanitarian pauses and corridors.”
A summit in December ended with no new conclusions on Gaza, despite a majority of the member states having backed a United Nations General Council resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire just days earlier.