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Europe

Pushing Peace, EU to Meet Middle East Officials in Brussels

Foreign Ministers from the EU are on Sunday, Jan. 25, meeting their counterparts from the Palestinian territories, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey in an attempt to kickstart the peace process.

destruction in Gaza

Rebuilding Gaza will be on the agenda at the meeting in Brussels

At the talks, which will be held in Brussels, ministers will discuss the situation in Gaza, which is just emerging from a deadly conflict with Israel that left more 1,300 Palestinians dead.

Ministers will assess the state of the ceasefire there, and try to find ways to increase the flow of aid to the devastated region, where around 4,100 homes were destroyed and some 17,000 damaged.

Palestinian flag

The EU is the Palestinians' biggest aid donor

The EU also hopes that despite the conflict, this moment is a chance to reanimate long-stalled efforts to bring peace to the region.

"We want to talk to the four of them about how do we get the region behind a meaningful peace process. We need the broader support of the Arab world," one EU diplomat told the AFP news agency ahead of the talks.

He added that some of the countries at the table could be "bridges" to other countries in the Muslim world, like Syria or Iran.

Getting more involved

The talks on Sunday will be followed by a meeting by EU ministers alone on Monday to take stock of the progress and discuss how the EU can help in the region by bolstering the ceasefire, ensuring aid and aiding Palestinians in rebuilding.

mourning deaths in gaza

Despite the conflict and suffering, the EU hopes it can kick off renewed moves toward peace

The EU is already offering to beef up its monitoring mission on the border with Egypt, in a bid to help the week-old ceasefire hold. Diplomats have said the EU would consider doing more, such as providing personnel to monitor other crossing points into Gaza so that more aid can enter.

The EU is the biggest aid donor to the Palestinians. Some half a billion euros have gone to the region in recent years.

France said on Friday that it was sending a frigate to international waters off the coast of Gaza to help in a mission to prevent arms smuggling. Britain and Germany have also offered to help counter smuggling efforts.

Israel has said it will not allow arms to be smuggled into Gaza for possible use against Israeli citizens. If such smuggling is uncovered, Israel has said it could restart its military offensive.

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