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NATO chief hopes for extension in Israel-Palestine humanitarian pause

Anadolu Agency EUROPE
Published November 28,2023

The NATO secretary-general said Tuesday that he hopes there will be an extension in the humanitarian pause between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.

Speaking at a press conference following an informal meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, Jens Stoltenberg said that they discussed NATO's deterrence and defense as well as support for Ukraine.

"Ministers also expressed concern about the war in the Middle East," he noted, adding he welcomed the extension of the pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas and hopes it will be extended.

The pause has allowed for "much-needed relief" to the people in Gaza, the release of more hostages and the provision of more humanitarian aid, stated the NATO chief.

In response to a question about "NATO's role in the conflict," Stoltenberg reiterated that NATO as the alliance does not play an active role in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

"Some allies are active in different ways. But NATO organization is not directly involved ... one of the messages from NATO is that it is important that this conflict does not escalate to a bigger regional conflict," he added.

Stoltenberg said: "We also discussed challenges emanating from our southern neighborhood. I have appointed an independent group of experts to address this in detail. They will submit recommendations by next spring."

Responding to a question about the work of experts, the NATO chief said: "It is a bit too early to say exactly what they will conclude. However, part of the instability we see in the alliance's southern neighbors is also linked to the instability and the conflict that have been seen for decades in the Middle East.

"Upholding international law, following humanitarian law is important regardless of the type of conflict," he added.

Qatar announced an agreement late Monday to extend the initial four-day pause for an additional two days, under which further prisoner exchanges will be carried out.

Israel launched a massive military campaign in the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7.

It has since killed over 15,000 people, including 6,150 children and 4,000 women, according to health authorities in the enclave.

The official Israeli death toll stands at 1,200.


Mentioning that the allies reiterated their determination to "support Ukraine on its path to NATO," Stoltenberg pointed out that they also addressed challenges China presents to Euro-Atlantic security.

"China is not our adversary and I welcome that allies are engaging in dialogue with Beijing on issues of mutual concern. At the same time, we must be clear-eyed about the impact of China's coercive policies on our security," he added.

He went on to say that the ministers will address the situation in the Western Balkans, while tomorrow, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will join them in the NATO-Ukraine Council.

The foreign ministers of NATO member states gathered on Tuesday for a two-day meeting in Brussels to discuss the war in Ukraine and other global issues.