27th Jan 2021

Solana optimistic about Gaza ceasefire

  • Mr Solana - hoping for a ceasefire (Photo: The Council of the European Union)

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on Thursday (29 January) expressed hopes that a lasting cease-fire between Israel and Hamas could be reached as early as next week.

"I hope that around 4 or 5 February – this is the objective – a ceasefire can be established… And then from that date on until let's say 24 or 25 February to get an agreement of a more political nature," Mr Solana told a seminar organised by the centre-right EPP-ED party in the European Parliament in Brussels.

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"This is [something] that should be done and I hope that it will be done," he added.

Israel and Hamas on 18 January agreed to stop hostilities, but these are for the moment "two unilateral statements by the two sides, without the true connotation of a ceasefire," the diplomat explained.

Many issues are still to be resolved, but the situation "is moving," said Mr Solana, who returned from a Middle East visit on Thursday morning.

Speaking to a group of journalists later on, he said that he wished "without any doubt" that the Middle East peace process could restart within a year.

In order for this to be achieved, Mr Solana backed the idea of forming an interim unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that would stay in power for a few months – the time necessary to launch the reconstruction of Gaza and organise new elections.

It is not for the EU to negotiate such a government, Mr Solana said, but he added: "it is good that we give a signal this is something we can live with."

Governance of the two occupied Palestinian territories has been split between Islamist Hamas and its secular rival Fatah since June 2007.

Egypt has been the mediator between Fatah and Hamas trying to renew dialogue between them, which is seen as an essential step for Gaza's reconstruction by the international community.

Both the EU and the US refuse direct contact with Hamas which they consider a terrorist organisation.

Mr Solana's words came in the aftermath of the three-week Gaza conflict during which some 1,300 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and more than 5,000 others were injured – many of whom women and children.

Three Israeli civilians and 10 soldiers were also killed in the conflict.

The statements also come just days after the new US administration illustrated that it will put the Middle East conflict high on its political agenda when President Barack Obama phoned Arab and Israeli leaders on his first full day in office.

It then appointed George Mitchell - known for his work on the Northern Ireland peace process - as special envoy to the region in a move welcomed by the EU.


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