Tuesday, January 06, 2009

We need a ceasefire on both sides in Gaza

I support the call from William Hague for a ceasefire in Gaza, implemented by both sides. This is the only solution which will preserve the Peace Process, protect Israel’s security and allow action to be taken to address suffering in Gaza.

William called for an immediate end to the rocket attacks by Hamas, condemning them as “acts of terrorism”, and said that this was a "disastrous time" for civilians in Gaza. No country in the world would tolerate having rockets fired at their civilians from a nieghbouring state: we wouldn't accept it and can't expect Israel to. As President-elect Obama put it, if someone was firing rockets at the house where his young daughters were asleep, he would do everything in his power to stop it.

But Palestinian women and children are human beings too.

William Hague warned that it is not in Israel’s interests to continue the operation for a long time, partly because Hamas will try to declare victory if they survive the onslaught, and partly because it risks escalating the situation on other borders, such as Israel’s border with Lebanon. He said that

“It is fair to say that Israel will not achieve all its objectives just by military action. They have been defending themselves against attacks from hundreds of rockets with increasingly long range, but they have to balance that with the need to pursue a wider peace in the Middle East. And if this goes on for a long time I think it will damage those prospects.”

He urged the new US administration to make the situation in Gaza, as well as the entire Middle East Peace Process, one of their top priorities.

And he stressed the British Government must work with the United States and other members of the Middle East Quartet to secure an urgent return to negotiations:

“The only long-term solution is a negotiated two-state agreement that achieves a viable and secure Palestinian state living alongside a secure Israel with her right to live in peace and security recognised by all her neighbours. This requires Britain to work with those, including President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, who are dedicated to achieving a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The Quartet laid down three very clear conditions for Hamas in 2006. These principles remain the standard against which to judge Hamas’s behaviour. While violence is continuing against Israel and these principles remain unfulfilled, talks with Hamas are out of the question.”

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