Palestinian minister says ceasefire in Gaza is ‘not enough’

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Palestinian Minister Says Ceasefire In Gaza Is ‘Not Enough’ Palestinian Minister Says Ceasefire In Gaza Is ‘Not Enough’
Children wave Palestinian flags during a protest supporting the children in Gaza, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Edith Lederer, Associated Press

Palestine’s top diplomat said a ceasefire in Gaza is “not enough at all” and the world must now tackle the difficult issues of Jerusalem’s future and achieving an independent Palestinian state.

Riad Al-Malki told reporters at an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly on the conflict that while a ceasefire is good it does not address “the core issue” that started the violence.

He said that is Jerusalem, citing the “desecration” by Israeli soldiers and settlers of the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, and the Israeli policy of evicting Palestinians from their homes in the city’s different neighbourhoods including Sheikh Jarra.

Mr Al-Malki accused Israel of intending to erase the multi-cultural, multi-religious character of the city of Jerusalem, saying: “We are opposed to that, we reject that, and we’ll keep working to prevent that from happening.”

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(AP Graphics)

He said the overwhelming messages from the meeting were not only “condemning Israeli atrocities and crimes” in Gaza but reminding the world of the need to care for and defend Jerusalem and to work for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Mr Al-Malki said: “Today’s events here in the General Assembly and what has been happening has refocused the attention again on the issue of Palestine.”

He added Israel’s normalisation of relations with some Arab countries including the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, does not waive the questions of the future of Jerusalem and a Palestinian state.

He said: “To the contrary, we see today that the issue of Palestine and the Palestinian question, the issue of Jerusalem and the occupation of Jerusalem, is the most important issue for all Muslims and Arabs and the world alike.

“We want to see the Palestinian people free and also living in their own independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.”

The last direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians took place in 2014. The Palestinians broke off relations with former US president Donald Trump’s administration in December 2017 after he after he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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People inspect a hole and the rubble of destroyed residential building which was hit by Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City (Adel Hana/AP)

Mr Trump further angered the Palestinians by presenting a two-state peace plan that would have required significant Palestinian concessions on territory and sovereignty, moved the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv, cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority and rescinded a longstanding legal opinion that Israeli settlement activity is illegitimate under international law.

President Joe Biden won initial but cautious plaudits from Mideast analysts when he rejected the Trump administration’s unabashedly pro-Israel stance and tentatively embraced the Palestinians by restoring aid and diplomatic contacts.

But he also retained key elements of Mr Trump’s policies, including on settlements.

In the past two weeks, the US blocked four attempts by the UN Security Council to demand an end to the Israeli-Hamas conflict, saying a statement could interfere with diplomatic efforts.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the assembly meeting: “I don’t believe there is any country working more urgently or fervently toward peace.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire that Israel and the Palestinians have a responsibility to observe it and “to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict”.

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Whether a serious effort takes place to try to revive efforts to end the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict remains to be seen.


The ceasefire came after 11 days of intense fighting (Hatem Moussa/AP)

Mr Guterres underscored the UN’s commitment to work with Israelis and Palestinians to return to peace negotiations, including through the Quartet of Mideast mediator — the UN, US, European Union and Russia.

Ms Thomas-Greenfield said the Biden administration is “committed to working with other members of the international community over the long term to create the conditions for a lasting and sustainable peace”.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN and the US, Gilad Erdan, accused the General Assembly of “hypocrisy” on Thursday for supporting and not condemning Hamas, which does not accept Israel’s right to exist.

He referred to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ announcement in late April that the first Palestinian elections in 15 years would be delayed.

Mr Abbas cited a dispute with Israel to call off a vote in which his fractured Fatah party was expected to suffer another embarrassing defeat to the Hamas militant group. Hamas called the move a “coup”.

Mr Erdan said: “If this institution strengthens Hamas, it will make the possibility of Hamas replacing the Palestinian Authority much more likely and eliminate the chance of future dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

“There is nothing to discuss with a terror organisation committed to your annihilation, nothing.”

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