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Stakeout by EU Members of the Council & Norway on the Situation in the Middle East

I would like to make the following statement today on behald of the three current EU Members of the Security Council, Estonia, France and Ireland, as well as Norway. 

We express our grave concern regarding the escalation in and around Gaza and the upsurge in violence in the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, including in East Jerusalem, as well as in Israel. We urgently call upon all actors to deescalate tensions, end violence and show the utmost restraint.

We condemn the firing of rockets from Gaza against civilian populations in Israel by Hamas and other militant groups, which is totally unacceptable and must stop immediately. The large numbers of civilian casualties, including children, from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, and of Israeli fatalities from rockets launched from Gaza, are both worrying and unacceptable. While we recognize Israel’s right to self-defense against such attacks, we call for the Israeli security forces to exercise maximum restraint in order to protect civilians in line with international humanitarian law.

We are also deeply worried by the daily clashes and violence in East Jerusalem, especially in and around the holy sites, including Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, which led to many injured. Political, religious and community leaders on all sides should show responsibility and make every effort to calm this volatile situation and refrain from provocation and incitement. Further civilian casualties must be prevented as a priority. Acts of incitement around the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif must be avoided and the status quo has to be respected.

The situation with regard to the threatened evictions of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah and other areas of East Jerusalem is also of serious concern. We call on Israel to cease settlement activities, demolitions and evictions, including in East Jerusalem, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.

This current escalation of violence shows the urgent need to address the root causes that led to this situation. Peace and security can only be achieved by agreement. We stand ready to support all efforts to help resume credible negotiations aimed at achieving a just and lasting peace in the Middle East based on international law, relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and agreed parameters. We urge both parties to demonstrate their commitment to the two-state solution through concrete actions and to refrain from unilateral steps that would undermine it.

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