EU welcomes Israel's announcement of temporary ceasefire in Gaza 2009-01-18 19:56:25   Print

Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts   

    BRUSSELS, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) welcomed on Sunday the announcement by Israel to unilaterally cease all their military activities in Gaza and urged Hamas to immediately and unconditionally join the ceasefire.

    While calling on both Israel and Hamas to fully implement U.N. Security Council Resolution 1860, the EU's Czech Presidency also urged Israel to fully and immediately reopen its border crossings with Gaza to help alleviate the suffering of Gaza's population.

    "The priority now is to ensure that no more civilians die as a result of this conflict. It is vital, therefore, that all required humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical aid, is freely and rapidly delivered into, and distributed within Gaza," said the Czech presidency in a statement.

    "The recent crisis in Gaza only highlights the need for renewed and urgent efforts in achieving a comprehensive peace. The EU stands ready to help establish an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state, living side by side with Israel in peace and security" said the statement.

    The EU Presidency called on Israel and the Palestinian National Authority to resume their peace talks.

    Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Saturday evening announced a unilateral ceasefire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, beginning from 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) Sunday. The announcement came shortly after Israeli security cabinet voted in favor of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel Defense Forces Cast Lead Operation had been going on in the past three weeks.

    The EU's executive body, the European Commission, also welcomed Israelí»s unilateral announcement of ceasefire.

    "I welcome the fact that Israel has declared a ceasefire. I call on Hamas to refrain from any violence in order to allow for an end to the terrible human suffering. It should also allow the EU and other donors to deliver much needed humanitarian assistance," said European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner in a statement.

    While stressing that the EU's priority is a durable peace, she expressed the hope that the Gaza crossings could be regularly opened and all Israeli troops would withdraw from the Gaza Strip.

    The commissioner also said the EU encourages all "tangible steps" toward intra-Palestinian reconciliation.       

Editor: Bi Mingxin
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