UN chief Ban: Israeli occupation led to Gaza war | Jerusalem Post |

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed last summer’s Gaza war on Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian territories, as he called on both parties to finalized an agreement for a two-state solution.

“We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said.

He spoke on Sunday at a donor conference in Cairo to raise funds to repair the damage from the Gaza war. On Monday he is expected to visit Israel, where he will meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. On Tuesday he will visit Gaza.

In Cairo, he said, “I call on all parties to come together to chart a clear course towards a just and final peace — including achieving a full lifting of the blockade, ensuring Israel’s legitimate security concerns; and establishing two States living side by side in peace and security.”

Ban added, “Going back to the status quo is not an option; this is the moment for transformational change.” Gaza, he warned, remains a “tinder box.”

Full text of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech at Gaza donors conference | State.gov |

I want to particularly thank President Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukry for their leadership and for their partnership in their efforts for the Palestinian Authority and to help bring all of us here today for their work with Israel on the ceasefire. And we respect and thank them also for their partnership with the United States, not just in working towards a durable ceasefire, but also in helping to pull together, and helping to pull together this massive reconstruction effort.

But President Sisi’s efforts, I think it’s fair to say, have really helped to reaffirm the pivotal role that Egypt has played in this region for so long. The same can also be said of Foreign Minister Brende and Norway, whose historic connection and commitment to these issues go back more than two decades to the Oslo Accords, and I’m personally always impressed by the deep engagement of Norway in efforts to make peace, not just here but elsewhere in the world. And of course, President Abbas, thank you for your perseverance and your partnership.

Now, I know that in Israel as well as in Gaza and the West Bank, most people would quickly tell you today that as much as they want peace, they think it is a distant dream, something that’s just not possible now. The problem is, having said that, no one then offers an alternative that makes sense. I say it is unacceptable to want peace but then buy into an attitude that makes it inevitable that you cannot have peace. It is unacceptable to simply shrug one’s shoulders, say peace isn’t possible now, and then by doing nothing to make it possible, actually add to the greater likelihood of a downward spiral.

So out of this conference must come not just money, but a renewed commitment from everybody to work for a peace that meets the aspirations of all – for Israelis, for Palestinians, and for all the peoples of this region. And I promise you the full commitment of President Obama, myself, and the United States of America to try to achieve that. Thank you.  

Other nations call for recognition of the State of Palestine

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Russia to Actively Participate in Gaza Reconstruction Works | Ria Novosti |

The international community must help rebuild the war-torn Gaza Strip and Russia will be actively involved in the reconstruction works, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said.

“The task of the international community, and Russia is actively involved in this, is to help Palestinians as quickly and efficiently as possible to rebuild the Gaza strip,” Bogdanov stated.

    “We are supplying our products there, and of course there are opportunities to expand training of personnel required [to work] in Gaza. Our humanitarian assistance in different fields is provided [to Gaza] with the help of the Emergencies Ministry and our various public organizations. This work is ongoing and will continue.”

Bogdanov, who also serves as Russia’s special presidential envoy for the Middle East, has arrived to the Egyptian capital to participate in a conference on the reconstruction of the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

According to the Russian deputy minister, efforts to rebuild the Palestinian exclave will be pointless without a peaceful settlement to the conflict.

    “We need a political settlement, negotiations. They should be carried out on a clear and understandable basis of international law, because in the end everyone agrees that there can only be a two-state solution, i.e. the establishment of a Palestinian state, which is to exist side by side with its neighbors in peace and security.”

Russia to support Palestinian bid for Security Council mandate for statehood | Jerusalem Post |

Russia plans to back a Palestinian United Nations Security Council resolution which sets a deadline for two-state solution that includes an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and east Jerusalem by November 2016.

Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced his country’s position on Sunday at a donor conference for Gaza that drew representatives from 50 nations.

Although Russia is a member of the Quartet, that calls for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it also has a history of supporting unilateral Palestinian statehood initiatives, particularly at the UN.

It has already recognized Palestine as a state. In 2012 it supported the UN General Assembly resolution that granted Palestine de-facto statehood recognition by up-grading its status before the international body from that of an observer nation to a non-member state.

Britain’s Labour party facing rebellion over vote on Palestine | Ynet News |

Senior members irate over decision by party leader Ed Miliband to impose whip on Monday vote; Israeli Labor party urges MPs to boycott vote.  Britain’s Labour party leadership is facing a potential “revolt” over a decision to impose a whip for the symbolic vote on Monday on the unilateral recognition of the state of Palestine.

According to the British media, some of the party’s shadow ministers are outraged at being told by leader Ed Miliband how to vote on the issue, as they support recognition through as part of a peace agreement.

British newspaper The Independent quoted a senior pro-Israel MP as saying that, “To say that there is a row going on it putting it very mildly. People are furious. This is an attempt to rip up 13 years of carefully calibrated policy. It total madness and makes the prospect of peace less rather than more likely.”

House of Commons should recognise Palestinian statehood | The Independent |

The mantra from Washington and Israel remains the same: a solution can only come from direct negotiations between the two sides: “meddling” by outsiders will only make a bad situation worse. The fact is however that since 1949, all negotiations, whether brokered by the US, or involving only Israel and the Palestinians as in the 1990s Oslo process, have failed.

Few of those failures moreover were as complete as Secretary of State John Kerry’s brave but foredoomed effort to somehow jump over procedural wrangling and get real talks going on the so-called “final status” issues: borders, Jerusalem, a Palestinian right of return and the rest. What followed the collapse of the Kerry venture last April was yet another tragic war in the sealed-off Gaza enclave, killing over 2,200 people – the majority of them Palestinian civilians – and resolving precisely nothing. Meanwhile Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, brazenly proceeds with new Israeli settlements on land that should belong to a new Palestine. So much for Israel’s enthusiasm for a two-state solution.

The hypocrisy at the heart of Europe’s engagement with Palestine

Unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood is not the quickest route to peace
By Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel | Oct. 10, 2014 |

I am a strong supporter of Palestinian statehood. However complex the issues involved, it is a simple matter of justice that the Palestinian people should have their own homeland, one that lives in peace and security with its neighbour, Israel.

I can understand, therefore, why MPs will be tempted to vote on Monday for the motion proposed by Grahame Morris, Jeremy Corbyn, and Caroline Lucas, which appears to propose just that.

But, for all of us who believe in a two-state solution, we should apply a simple test: does supporting a motion which proposes a unilateral and pre-emptive recognition of a Palestinian state make the aspirations of the Palestinian people more or less likely to happen, and does it make a lasting peace more or less likely to achieve?

Read also my recent diary – Sweden to recognize Palestine statehood, new prime minister says.

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