23:53 GMT15 June 2021
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    Thursday's ceasefire deal has put an end to the 11 days of violence between Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, the worst bilateral conflagration in recent years.

    A host of world leaders welcomed an Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement on Friday as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on both sides "to observe" the truce.

    The UN chief also said global leaders should develop a reconstruction package "that supports the Palestinian people and strengthens their institutions".

    Guterres underscored that with the ceasefire already in force, "Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the [bilateral] conflict".

    A girl standing in a damaged house looks on as Palestinians return to their homes following Israel- Hamas truce, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2021
    A girl standing in a damaged house looks on as Palestinians return to their homes following Israel- Hamas truce, in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip, May 21, 2021

    He signalled the UN's readiness to cooperate with Israel and the Palestinians, as well as other sides to return to "meaningful negotiations" on a two-state solution to the standoff. This stipulates creating a Palestinian state that will peacefully cooperate with the existing State of Israel, something that is expected to end the bilateral conflict and serve as a foundation for a lasting peace in the Middle East.

    US President Joe Biden, for his part, expressed "sincere gratitude" to Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his mediation efforts in concluding the ceasefire, vowing that Washington would work together with UN agencies and the Palestinians, but not Hamas, to rebuild Gaza.

    "I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely, and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy. My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy towards that end", Biden said in a televised statement.

    Egyptian President al-Sisi thanked Biden, saying that he shared the POTUS' emphasis on diplomacy for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Johnson Calls for 'Durable Solution' to Middle East Conflict

    Al-Sisi was echoed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson who urged regional leaders to "find a durable solution" to the conflict that "prevents terrorism, ends the cycle of violence, and delivers a sustainable and just peace".

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas struck the same tone, tweeting it's "good that there is now a ceasefire" and that the sides should now "deal with the causes, rebuild trust, and find a solution to the Middle East conflict".

    Top Swedish diplomat Ann Linde also praised the Israel-Hamas truce as "good news", adding that "full humanitarian access to Gaza" is now needed. "Then the hard way to resume peace talks must begin", she tweeted on Friday.  

    This was in line with remarks by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who also hailed the ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, indicating France's determination to play a key role in trying to secure a political solution to the crisis.

    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, in turn, tweeted that he "welcomes the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians", stressing that "conditions for lasting security and stability must be created" in the region.

    Also welcoming the ceasefire was European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who pointed out that "only a political solution will bring lasting peace and security to all".

    Moscow Warns Israel-Hamas Ceasefire 'Insufficient Step'

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has, meanwhile, warned that the truce is "an important but insufficient step" and that "conditions for launching direct negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel are needed to prevent a possible new escalation".

    © REUTERS / Mohammed Salem
    Палестинец отдыхает после возвращения в свой разрушенный дом после перемирия между Израилем и ХАМАС в Бейт-Хануне на севере сектора Газа

    The remarks followed Hamas official Ali Barakeh telling the AP news agency that the truce was a defeat for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and "a victory for the Palestinian people". The Israeli PM, for his part, told reporters shortly after the announcement of the ceasefire that Israel had "achieved" its goals in the operation against Hamas which he said was "an exceptional success".

    On Thursday evening, Israel and Hamas agreed to an Egypt-brokered ceasefire, 11 days after the beginning of violent clashes in East Jerusalem that led to the worst violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in recent years.

    Palestinian militants launched several thousand rockets toward Israel, who conducted retaliatory strikes against Gaza targets. In the Jewish state, 12 people were killed and over 50 were seriously wounded during the flare-up, while the Palestinian death toll stands at 32, with more than 1,900 people wounded.


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