The European Union's new foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini on Saturday appealed for the establishment of a Palestinian state, saying the world "cannot afford" another assault on Gaza.
"We need a Palestinian state -- that is the ultimate goal and this is the position of all the European Union," Mogherini said during a trip to Gaza.
A 50 day Israeli assault on Gaza took place in July and August and resulted in the deaths of 2,140 Palestinians while only 70 Israelis died.
Mogherini's visit comes against a backdrop of surging Israeli-Palestinian tensions in annexed east Jerusalem where there have been near-daily clashes in flashpoint neighbourhoods.
She voiced hope that Gaza would avoid another major assault.
"It is not only the people of Gaza that can't afford having a fourth war, all the world cannot afford this," she said.
"We cannot just sit and wait. If we sit and wait it will go on for another 40 years. We have to have action now," said Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister who recently took over from Catherine Ashton as the top EU diplomat.
Palestinians are seeking to achieve statehood in Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank with east Jerusalem as the capital.
Sweden last month became the first EU member in western Europe to officially recognise the state of Palestine.
Asked whether the EU might do the same, Mogherini said that such a move was "not among the competences" of the 28-nation bloc.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online.