Britain’s Hague calls for ceasefire, PA control of Gaza

British Foreign Secretary William Hague calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, appealing on all parties that have an influence on Hamas to get it to stop firing rocket at Israel. He also urges the Palestinian Authority to retake control of the coastal strip.

“The UK has three objectives – to secure a ceasefire, to alleviate humanitarian suffering, and to keep alive the prospects for peace negotiations which are the only hope of breaking this cycle of violence and devastation once and for all,” Hague says at the House of Commons in London. “First, there is an urgent need for a ceasefire agreed by both sides that ends both the rocket fire and the Israeli operations against Gaza, based on the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict in November 2012.”

Reinstating that agreement, which was brokered by the United States and Egypt at the end of Operation Pillar of Defense will require “a concerted effort” between Israelis, Palestinians and Egyptians, joined by others in the international community. “All those with influence over Hamas must use it to get Hamas to agree to end rocket fire,” Hague says.

“Implementation of that agreement must only be part of a wider effort to improve conditions in Gaza. Without that, we are likely to see further such cycles of violence. This should include the restoration of Palestinian Authority control in Gaza, the opening up of legitimate movement and access and a permanent end to the unacceptable threat of rocket attacks and other forms of violence.”

So far, Hague has spoken about the Gaza crisis with Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Qatar.

“Israel has a right to defend itself against indiscriminate attacks,” Hague tells the British parliamentarians. “But it is vital that Gaza’s civilian population is protected. International humanitarian law requires both sides to distinguish between military and civilian targets and to enable unhindered humanitarian access.”

Raphael Ahren

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