Kerry calls for renewed commitment to Middle East peace

Describing the current status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as "unacceptable and unstable", US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called for a renewed commitment for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Cairo: Describing the current status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process as "unacceptable and unstable", US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday called for a renewed commitment for achieving peace in the Middle East.

Speaking at an international donors conference here for reconstruction of the war-battered Gaza Strip, Kerry emphasised that the effort should look beyond arranging money and aspire to fulfill the goal of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Out of this conference must come not just money but a renewed commitment from everybody to work for peace that meets the aspirations of all, for Israelis, for Palestinians, for all people of this region. And I promise you the full commitment of President (Barack) Obama, myself and the US to try to do that," the Secretary of State said.

"Everything else will be a band aid fix, not a long-term solution. Everything else will be the prisoner of impatience and that has brought us to this unacceptable and unstable status quo," he asserted.

Kerry said with winter approaching, thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes need urgent help.

He also announced an additional USD 212 million in aid to the Palestinian people at the conference, saying, "The people of Gaza do need our help desperately, not tomorrow, not next week, but they need it now".

US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) broke down in April followed by the devastating 50-day war in Gaza in July where more than 2,200 people were killed as Israeli attacks left the area badly battered.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for lifting the Israeli blockade and for applying a two-state solution.

Ban said that both sides need to avoid violations of international law as he also advised their leaders to overcome their differences to put an end to the conflict.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas also spoke at the conference seeking USD 4 billion in aid to rehabilitate Gaza.

Abbas also stressed that "it is no longer acceptable to live in a state of repeated wars".

Thanking Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his efforts to achieve an agreement and help promote the Palestinian cause, Abbas said that the PA would continue to work closely with Egypt on reaching a lasting truce.

Reflecting on the situation in the West Bank which is controlled by the PA, Abbas said that Israel's continued settlement activity was harmful to the economy and prevented Palestinians from developing large chunks of the West Bank.

"There must be an international approach" to ending the decades-old conflict, Abbas stated, which must include a Palestinian state.

The donors conference, co-organised by Egypt and Norway, aims to raise billions of dollars to rebuild Gaza after the bloody conflict that started in July and left over 2,000 Palestinians dead and 100,000 others homeless.

The conference is being attended by more than 30 foreign ministers, over 50 national delegations and around 20 representatives from regional and international organisations.  

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