European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday reiterated her strongly pro-Israeli stance despite growing criticism from within her own staff, while also harshly criticizing Iran for seeking to sow “violence and chaos” in the Middle East.
Some 800 EU staff took the unusual step of writing to von der Leyen at the end of last week to protest against what they see as unjustifiable bias toward Israel in the Israel-Hamas war. The protest came after the president neglected to mention the EU’s support for Palestinian statehood in a speech on Thursday in Washington — despite a two-state solution being a core part of the position of European countries.
Yet on Sunday von der Leyen doubled down on her previous stance during a speech to the youth organization of her German center-right CDU/CSU political group.
While she stressed that any Israeli defense against the Hamas terrorist group must be “in accordance with international law,” she again did not mention Palestinian statehood and instead just referred to necessary humanitarian aid, saying: “There is no contradiction in standing in solidarity with Israel and providing humanitarian aid in Gaza.”
Von der Leyen also compared Israel’s role in the conflict to Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression.
“All these conflicts have one thing in common: they are about the struggle between those who seek peace, balance, freedom and cooperation — and those who do not want any of this because they profit from the chaos and disorder,” von der Leyen said in her speech at the CDU/CSU youth wing congress in Braunschweig, Germany.
Her remarks can be seen as controversial because, even though Israel is undeniably defending itself following a brutal aggression by Hamas terrorists, the country’s at times very complicated and highly criticized settlement policy may not exactly qualify as balanced or in the interest of peace and cooperation.
Human Rights Watch has criticized Israel for “committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians.”
Von der Leyen also took a very critical position toward Iran, saying that Tehran stood “behind Hamas.” She added: “Iran has no interest whatsoever in this region coming to peace. On the contrary, Iran wants to foment violence and chaos because that secures its influence.”