UN chief welcomes Gaza truce deal

Photo: UN chief welcomes Gaza truce deal / Arab-Israel Relations

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Tuesday welcomed a ceasefire deal reached between Israel and the Palestinians, hoping it will act as a "prelude" to achieve durable peace in the Gaza Strip, Xinhua reported.

"A brighter future for Gaza and for Israel depends on a sustainable ceasefire. It is up to the parties to live up to this responsibility," said Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric in reading out a statement.

"After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, any violations of the cease-fire would be utterly irresponsible," the spokesman noted.

The conflict in Gaza ended on Tuesday after Israel and the Palestinians agreed on an open-ended ceasefire, putting an end to seven weeks of catastrophic loss of life and destruction.

After this latest round of killing and the further widespread destruction of Palestinian homes, civilians on both sides need a reprieve in order to resume their daily lives, and to allow for humanitarian and early recovery efforts to address the desperate needs of the people in Gaza, the statement said.

"Gaza must be brought back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the PLO commitments; the blockade of Gaza must end; Israel's legitimate security concerns must be addressed, " Dujarric said.

"The Secretary-General remains hopeful that the extended ceasefire will act as a prelude to a political process as the only way of achieving durable peace," said the spokesman, reiterating that the two-state solution is the only viable option.

"Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence," he stressed.

"The Secretary-General urgently calls on both parties to return to meaningful negotiations towards a final status agreement that addresses all core issues and ends the 47-year occupation," the spokesman said.

Israel launched a large-scale air, sea and ground military operation on July 8 against Gaza in response to rockets fired into its land from the coastal enclave. The Gaza health ministry said Israel has killed 2,140 Palestinians and wounded 11,100 others in its offensive.

On the other side, Israel said Gaza militants killed 69 Israelis, including 64 soldiers and five civilians.

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