Back up Gaza truce with serious talks, envoys urge

Israel and Palestine must re-start negotiations on a Two-State Solution if the latest truce is to be transformed into a lasting peace, London’s diplomats told Embassy.

In the latest ceasefire agreement Israel will allow civilian and material for reconstruction into the territory, demanding in return that Egypt and the Palestinian Authority halt weapons flow and ensure that materials are used for reconstruction and not terrorist infrastructure.

Upcoming tough talks over the demilitarisation of Hamas and the building of a sea and airport will require the building of trust.

One Ambassador remarked that the “lack of trust” between the opponents could only be overcome by working towards an “internationally guaranteed Two-State Solution.”

Another High Commissioner said in order to make the truce stick, there needed to be “a reassuring backdrop of negotiations” adding that there were parameters that need to be respected, “such as the return to pre-1967 borders, the issue of Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem.”

But diplomats expressed concern that the 50-day conflict had hardened attitudes. International players and regional neighbours needed to work with both sides to “shift attitudes” said one Ambassador.

The Hamas’s refusal to recognise Israel remains an obstacle to peace as it forms part of the Palestinian unity government, said one embassy worker, who also worried about “the drift to the right” in the Israeli public’s attitudes.

“Public opinion and the government [must] realise they have no choice but to negotiate with Fatah but also with Hamas,” he said, adding that Israel had to put an end to the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.

In the UK, rebuilding ties with the British public will be a focus for the Israeli Embassy which was the target of angry protests. A Jewish film festival, part funded by the Embassy, was cancelled and British MP George Galloway declared the city of Bradford a “no-Israel zone”.

Ambassador Daniel Taub defied the so-called ban (illegal under the Vienna Conventions) and travelled to the city, saying: “Bradford knows that there has only ever been one good boycott – and that’s [cricketer] Geoff Boycott.”

Jewish and Muslim community leaders in the UK said the Gaza conflict had exported divisions to Britain and now, with the truce, called on followers of both faiths to “export peace”.