Thursday, November 22, 2012

International Community Hails Israel-Gaza Truce

Int'l community hails Israel-Hamas truce deal
2012-11-22 12:39:43

• International community welcomed a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas.

• International community said it was important to make sure the implementation of the deal.

• WFP announced it would soon provide emergency food assistance for about 350 families in Gaza Strip.

BEIJING, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- The international community welcomed a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Gaza militant groups led by the Islamic Hamas movement, which came into effect late Wednesday, saying it was important to make sure the implementation of the deal.

Hailing the ceasefire agreement, which was brokered by the Egyptian government, the UN Security Council called on relevant parties "to act seriously" and "in good faith" in order to bring a "sustainable and durable" peace in the Middle East.

"The members of the Security Council welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached in relation to the Gaza Strip in order to bring about a sustainable and durable cessation of hostilities that have been affecting the Gaza Strip and Israel," said a statement read to the press by Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian UN ambassador who holds the rotating council presidency for November.

The statement came at the end of closed-door consultations on Wednesday afternoon after Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced the ceasefire accord in Cairo on Wednesday evening. The ceasefire officially came into effect at 9:00 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).

Earlier in the day, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the 15-nation Security Council with a video link from Tel Aviv that he "warmly welcomes" the ceasefire announcement.

"I commend the parties for stepping back from the brink and I commend President (Mohamed) Morsi of Egypt for his exceptional leadership," he said.

The UN chief is on his three-day visit to Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Jordan, for talks with regional leaders in a bid to push for an early truce between Israel and Hamas following a week of fighting between the two sides, which reportedly killed more than 150 Palestinians and five Israelis.

Meanwhile, the UN World Food Program (WFP) announced that it would soon provide emergency food assistance for about 350 families with around 2,100 people in the Gaza Strip, whose houses were destroyed in recent Israeli attacks.

The families would receive canned food and bread for an initial period of 10 days, UN Deputy Spokesperson Eduardo del Buey said at a daily news briefing in New York.

Four trucks with WFP food stocks, sufficient to feed 5,600 people for a month, have failed to cross Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza due to rocket fire, the spokesperson said.

"It is critical to ensure this access point is open for humanitarian food and other supplies in the coming days," he noted.

In a statement published by Palestine's official news agency Wafa, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he supports the agreement "to stop the bloodshed of our people and to put an end to the continuation of the Israeli aggression on Gaza."

"The Palestinian (National) Authority believes that any forthcoming steps of the ceasefire won't harm the interests of our people and the geographic unity between the Gaza Strip and West Bank," said the statement.

In Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama thanked Morsi for his mediation efforts for the truce deal.

"The president thanked President Morsi for his efforts to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and for his personal leadership in negotiating a ceasefire proposal," the White House said in a statement.

The statement said Obama also reaffirmed the "close partnership" between the United States and Egypt, adding that the two presidents "agreed on the importance of working toward a more durable solution to the situation in Gaza."

Echoing the White House's statement, Canada also praised Egypt's mediation work.

"Canada welcomes this ceasefire ... The Egyptian government showed leadership and responsibility as a major regional state," Foreign Minister John Baird said.

In Brussels, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the ceasefire deal, saying relevant parties must "ensure its implementation and to prevent the restart of violence."

In a statement, the two European Union leaders also pledged their bloc's support for the Middle East peace process.

The events of the last days "stress the urgent need to move towards a two-state solution allowing both sides to live side-by-side in peace and security," they said.

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