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"It is long past time for the suffering to end," Harris said. Alamy Stock Photo
ceasefire plan

Taoiseach among European leaders urging all parties to consider Gaza ceasefire plan

Simon Harris has urged all parties to consider what has been offered.

TAOISEACH SIMON HARRIS is among the European leaders who have welcomed the Israeli three-phase ceasefire deal, announced by US President Joe Biden yesterday, and has urged all parties to consider what has been offered.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and top figures in the European Commission have also been quick to welcome the deal.

Phase one of the plan would include a six-week ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated regions of Gaza and the release of female, elderly and wounded hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

The second phase includes the release of the remaining 121 hostages, who are still in Gaza after they were taken by Hamas during the 7 October attacks, and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

The third phase looks to the reconstruction of Gaza, without a Hamas-backed authority in charge, and returning of the hostages to their families where there will be a permanent ceasefire implemented.

In a statement today, Harris said after eight months of conflict in Gaza “there is a plan on the table that can move us closer to securing those goals and that can help create space to build a just and lasting peace and two-state solution”.

“I call on all parties to give the plan presented by President Biden serious and positive consideration. This is an opportunity that should not be missed. It is long past time for the suffering to end,” he added

In a similar statement, Macron said on X, formerly Twitter: “We (France) support the US proposal for a durable peace. Just as we are working with our partners in the region on peace and security for all.”

Sánchez and Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, who recognised Palestine on the same day as Ireland last month, have also welcomed the ceasefire plan.

“A ceasefire is urgently needed to put an end to the humanitarian disaster, as well as the immediate release of all hostages,” Sánchez said on X.

“Only the implementation of the two-state solution will make possible a future of peace, security and prosperity for the region.”

Støre said: “I support the proposal for a lasting ceasefire, presented by [Biden], the release of hostages and more humanitarian aid to Gaza. I urge all parties to engage and support.”

EU leaders have also welcomed the deal. Yesterday, shortly after Biden concluded the announcement is Israel’s plan, von der Leyen said she “wholeheartedly” welcomed the ceasefire framework.

“This three-step approach is balanced and realistic. It now needs support from all parties,” she added on X.

The EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell also welcomed the plan, adding “the war has to end now”.

Belgian Prime Minister, who’s government current holds the seat of the Council of the EU, Alexander De Croo met with Biden after the announcement yesterday.

De Croo said on X, alongside a picture of him and Biden: “It is our duty to end the cycle of violence in the Middle East.”

However, the office of the Israeli Prime Minister today said that permanent ceasefire will not commence until the Hamas militant-group is eradicated.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed,” a statement said. “The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place. The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

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