UK urges 'all parties' to de-escalate Mideast violence

AFP , Friday 7 Apr 2023

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Friday appealed to "all parties" to de-escalate after Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip and Lebanon in retaliation for several dozen rockets fired from both territories.

Maaliya village, Lebanon
Italian U.N. peacekeeper soldiers inspect a small bridge that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, in Maaliya village, south Lebanon, Friday, April 7, 2023. AP


"Now is the time for all parties across the region to de-escalate tensions," he said, condemning rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza and southern Lebanon, and noting London recognize "Israel's right to self-defense".

But the UK's top diplomat also criticized Israeli police for "violence" inside Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque after officers clashed Wednesday with Palestinians inside Islam's third-holiest site.

"When Israeli security forces conduct operations, they must ensure they are proportionate and in accordance with international law," Cleverly said.

Tensions have soared between Israel and Palestinians during what is both the Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with fears of further escalation in the coming days.

Cleverly urged all parties to "respect the historic status quo arrangements at Jerusalem's holy sites and cease all provocative action".

He added Israel and the Palestinian Authority must "take steps to honor the commitments agreed" at regional peace summits in recent months attended by various parties, including Israeli and Palestinian officials.

"Peace will only be sustainable if both Israelis and Palestinians recommit themselves to a negotiated settlement, leading to a two-state solution of a secure Israel side by side with a viable Palestinian State," Cleverly said.

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