EU’s Borrell: Cut Off Arms to Israel

On Monday, the EU’s top foreign policy official rebuked the U.S. president and other world leaders for decrying the loss of life in Gaza while also sending weapons to the Netanyahu government. 

EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell in 2022. (European Parliament, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams

The European Union’s top foreign policy official said Monday that the Biden administration and other governments professing concern about the grisly death toll in the Gaza Strip should stop supplying so much weaponry to the Israeli military as it carries out one of the most devastating bombing campaigns in modern history.

Pointing to U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement late last week that Israel’s war on Gaza has been “over the top,” E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said during a press conference in Brussels, “Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed.”

Borrell then extended that suggestion to the rest of the international community, saying if governments believe that “this is a slaughter, that too many people are being killed, maybe they have to think about the provision of arms.”

“Everybody goes to Tel Aviv, begging, ‘Please don’t do that, protect civilians, don’t kill so many.’ How many is too many?” Borrell asked. “It is a little bit contradictory to continue saying that there are ‘too many people being killed, too many people being killed, please take care of people, please don’t kill so many.’ Stop saying please and [do] something.”

Shortly following Borrell’s remarks, veteran Associated Press reporter Matt Lee grilled U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on what leverage the Biden administration has used thus far to pressure the Israeli government to protect civilians in Gaza.

Lee challenged Miller by saying that top U.S. officials, including Biden, standing up and “wagging [their] finger” at Israel was “not really leverage.”

Miller responded by citing “the words of the president of the United States” and other diplomatic engagement—a reply that exemplified the approach Borrell urged nations to abandon.


The U.S. is by far the largest supplier of arms to Israel, but other countries — including the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands — have provided the country with weapons and other military equipment deployed during its ongoing assault on Gaza.

On Monday, a Netherlands court ordered the Dutch government to stop exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel, citing the “clear risk” that the warplanes “might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law.” The government said it would appeal the ruling to the nation’s Supreme Court.

Borrell’s call for restrictions on weapons transfers to Israel came weeks after a coalition of leading humanitarian organizations urged all countries to impose an arms embargo on Israel and Palestinian militants, declaring that “all states have the obligation to prevent atrocity crimes and promote adherence to norms that protect civilians.”

The U.S. Senate over the weekend advanced legislation that would provide Israel with over $10 billion in military assistance on top of what the Biden administration has already provided since the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was the lone member of the upper chamber’s Democratic caucus to vote against advancing the bill.

In the E.U., the foreign ministers of 16 countries received a letter from human rights groups on Monday urging them to do everything in their power to ensure Israel complies with the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) interim order, which requires Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

“Furthermore,” the letter reads,

“the E.U. and its member states must call for a cease-fire to ensure that no genocidal acts might be committed by the state of Israel and ensure that they do not cooperate on potential genocidal acts by suspending arms trade with Israel.”

Pressure on governments to stop providing arms to the Israeli military is growing as the Netanyahu government prepares for an invasion of Rafah, a small Gaza city to which more than a million displaced Palestinians fled in an attempt to find refuge from incessant Israeli airstrikes.

During Monday’s press conference in Brussels, Borrell criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to forcibly “evacuate” Rafah’s civilian population.

“They are going to evacuate. Where, to the moon?” he asked. “Where are they going to evacuate these people?”

Jake Johnson is a senior editor and staff writer for Common Dreams.

This article is from  Common Dreams.

10 comments for “EU’s Borrell: Cut Off Arms to Israel

  1. Francis Lee
    February 14, 2024 at 06:10

    So the Israeli kiddie killers can now apparently just carry with the sterling work of the UDF. The kill ratio must be in the tens of thousands by now, notching up mainly women and children. And the sycophant scum that call themselves politicians are an abomination, and should be treated with the same disgust as concentration camp guards.

  2. hetro
    February 13, 2024 at 17:27

    Whatever Borrell is and his motive here, what he’s saying indicates “leadership” is starting to feel a chill wind in their night shirts.

    (“Oh Gee, they don’t believe the self-defense stories? Dropping meat cleavers on children and machine-gunning them is not okay? Maybe I’d better say something? But let me put it mildly, with a “maybe” in it and some soft “diplomatic” tones.”)

    Assisting this mood is the President of the US who in the last day or so has been widely reported as calling Netanyahu “an asshole” three times, plus adding in that what’s happening is “over the top” and “innocent people are dying, are starving, and it’s got to stop.”

    This “world leader” with his two tongues is actually holding the following two positions simultaneously: “I’m so sorry for them”/”Fuck them.”

    At the same time the Congress approves another 10 billion to assist the cause of wiping Gaza’s population off the map.

    Apologies for this. I would suggest Borrell’s rhetoric be slightly upgraded.

    Mr. President,


  3. John Zeigler
    February 13, 2024 at 13:50

    Waiting in vain?

    The international Military-Industrial complex dawdles and puts off efforts to stop conflicts around the world, promising to do something, sometime, but not yet. It is all a horrid, cruel game on its part to wield power through hideous, destructive means until the people it sadistically enjoys torturing are eliminated. Then it will go in search of yet another group of people to persecute into oblivion. The criminally insane appear to control the levers of power and might in our beleaguered world while the rest of us wait in vain for respite. Why does the world put up with this insanity?

  4. nwwoods
    February 13, 2024 at 11:33

    “…over the top”. Harsh!

    ‘Gosh darn those kooky Israeli pranksters! Why, I oughta….’

  5. Richard Burrill
    February 13, 2024 at 10:43

    If only the U.S. empire would stop giving aid to Israel and they slaughter the Palestinians in Gaza and now more in the occupied West Bank! The Senate an Biden are complicit!

  6. Vera Gottlieb
    February 13, 2024 at 10:07

    WHAT took you so long, Mr. Borrell??? Your conscience finally starting to bother you? Verguenza…

  7. susan
    February 13, 2024 at 08:50

    “Over the top” my ass – Biden and cronies are such LIARS!! Anyone with any sense at all knows this…

  8. jamie
    February 13, 2024 at 04:08

    And we still believe what a European official says, despite the fact that we have grown accostumed of the “double tongue factor”, a cultural trait well-expressed in the Western culture thanks to its DNA.
    Europe has always played the “good cop, bad cop” game, often playing the part of the good cop, while silently supporting every US move and action. What has done the EU to stop the war in Iraq? did it sanction US as it did sanction Russia for invading another country?
    We have to stop wasting ink on what a European official says, only what he does matter; that’s the only way to measure western officials and governments’ evolution. Borrell is infamously known for the “garden vs jungle”, which exposed not only his belief on the world order but also the overall European elite’s. Since then he is trying hard to show his sympathy for the global south. To repair for the damages caused. We should have evolved and grown beyond these dinosaurs, which are still unaware a colossal comet has hit earth and sealed their fate.
    There is huge amount of natural gas (120 trillion mc), one of the biggest reserve in the world in the Mediterranean sea, just outside Gaza that rightfully belong to the Palestinians, from decades those resources have been illegally stolen by Israel. Israel occupation it is not only about land grabbing is about controlling natural resources flowing to Europe at an advantageous price. SO, do you really believe Europe will allow Gaza/Palestine to be self-governed and claim the right of those resources? and so, do you really believe Borrell’s words?
    for further information about natural resources in Palestine you can read the study done by the UNCTAD, ” The Economic Costs of the Israeli Occupation for the Palestinian People: The Unrealized Oil and Natural Gas Potential”

  9. Lois Gagnon
    February 12, 2024 at 20:53

    Every country that is supporting Israel’s genocide in any way should be targeted for BDS. It’s the only language they understand. I live in the worst offending country. I do-not look forward to suffering under an economic boycott, but I’m willing to do so, if it stops this madness.

  10. Andrew Nichols
    February 12, 2024 at 17:11

    “So much weapons” ??? Whats that mean? Halve the number of bombs and hellfires? What a f..king weird sttatement. Is this the same racist oddball who reckoned Europe and the West were a garden while the rest of humanity was a jungle?

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