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Friday, December 9, 2016
Aid agency says Palestinians need economic as well as military security
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¬†The fragile ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians has already been shattered ≠Tel Aviv has suffered another suicide bomb and Israel continues military activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. But it is not too late to seize the opportunity for a revival of the peace process writes Christian Aid. The UK hosted a meeting of international envoys and a delegation from the newly-elected Palestinian government this week, focusing on practical measures to improve Palestinian governance and security. Seen as a precursor to peace talks, it is hoped that the meeting will build Israeli confidence in the Palestinian Authority's (PA) ability to prevent attacks. Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he will demonstrate his commitment to cracking down on militant groups. The suicide attack that killed five Israelis and injured 50 in Tel Aviv on February 26 was described as an attempt to sabotage Abbas' efforts to secure a ceasefire from militant factions. But the root cause of Palestinian poverty ≠ Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem - was not on the agenda of this week's talks. "The biggest stumbling block [to peace] is the reality of continued occupation," said Bernard Sabella of the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees, Middle East Council of Churches. "If Israel wants real peace it must not continue holding onto settlements in the occupied territories, and exerting full control over Palestinian lives." Israel must also come under pressure to comply with its obligations under the roadmap and do what is necessary for a democratic Palestinian state to be established. This includes dismantling settlements, lifting closures and easing restrictions on movement of Palestinians and goods. "We are tired,'" explains Abla Nasir of Christian Aid partner, the YWCA Palestine."Tired of momentary gestures that do not even reach the core of the important issues that could bring about a lasting peace with justice." After the Israeli-Palestinian summit in Sharm El Sheikh in early February, Israel introduced some measures to ease conditions on Palestinians such as releasing prisoners. But most closures and movement restrictions in the West Bank remain in place. In the Gaza Strip, Christian Aid partners report that since the summit more civilians have died and residential areas have been shelled by the Israeli Defence Forces. Construction of the separation barrier, despite minor route changes, continues to confiscate Palestinian land in the West Bank. If the hardships of daily life under occupation persist they will continue to cast a dark shadow over any peace proceedings. "We have to keep hoping because without hope our dreams for a better future for our children will end," says Abla. "Who does not want a better future for their children?" Source: Christian Aid
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