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State of the Union: Hamas truce, packaging waste vote & Michel in Kyiv

Palestinians flee to northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.
Palestinians flee to northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip on Friday, Nov. 24, 2023. Copyright Mohammed Dahman/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Mohammed Dahman/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Stefan Grobe
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A four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas begun on Friday.

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A truce agreed between Israel and Hamas, this week, was a long-awaited announcement.

The deal will free groups of women and children among the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas on October 7 and from Palestinians detained in Israeli prisons.

The EU welcomed the news and said that it hoped it would create conditions for “a humanitarian surge" in Gaza.

It also announced that the Palestinian territories will continue receiving money for development that was previously under review.

The bloc is the largest international donor to the region designed to have a long-term impact and directed to areas, such as infrastructure and public services.

The European Commission said it will proceed with payments this month after its internal screening identified no diversion of funds into the wrong hands.

"The review found no indications of EU money having directly or indirectly benefited the terrorist organisation Hamas," Valdis Dombrovskis, Commission Vice President, said.

"The review found the control system in place has worked. As a result, payments to Palestinian beneficiaries and UNRWA [The UN agency for Palestinian refugees] will continue without payment delays."

The implementation of humanitarian and development aid in Gaza is done mostly by non-governmental organisations and UN agencies.

A recent UN assessment of the socioeconomic impact of the war, states that around half of the houses, hospitals, schools and roads have been destroyed.

MEPs vote to reduce waste

The European Parliament approved this week new rules aiming to greatly reduce packaging waste in the EU.

The law could cut 20% or 30% of the 80 billion tonnes of packaging waste produced every year.

The report still has to be negotiated with EU governments.

The Parliament's environment committee chair, Pascal Canfin, told Euronews that he expects the legislation to change the mindset of the packaging industry and other sectors using single-use plastic.

But the French MEP also recognised that it is probably one of the issues most targeted by so-called "big lobbies".

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"I give you one example: McDonald's is lobbying to keep the single-use model. The single-use model is that you use just once all that is necessary to have your food," Canfin said.

"The alternative to this is precisely the proposal we pushed for, meaning that when you are in a McDonald's or KFC or Burger King restaurant - on site, not takeaway - then why should you use, to drink your coke, a single-use cup? And not just a glass. Why?"

Michel goes to Kyiv

The EU support to Ukraine also includes regular visits of its most important leaders to the country.

This week, it was Charles Michel, president of the European Council, who wanted to mark the 10th anniversary of the Maidan Revolution.

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The mass protests toppled a Moscow-backed president and set Kyiv on a resolute pro-Western course.

Michel said that "heroes and heroines" lost their lives standing up for Ukraine’s association with the EU and for freedom and democracy.

During their work meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he hopes the country will get the green light to begin formal accession talks.

That decision will be made during the EU summit next month and Zelenskyy stressed that it would help Ukraine "to believe that there is justice".

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