Foreign Minister Brende visits the Middle East 

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Foreign Minister Børge Brende is the Middle East for talks with political leaders. He says the only viable way to bring the civilian losses and the enormous suffering in Gaza to an end is an early ceasefire.

He points to the fact that more than 180 people have been reported killed and some 1400 have been wounded during the attacks of the past week. “

‘Most of them are civilians, and many are women and children. This is unacceptable, and cannot be allowed to continue,’ the Norwegian Foreign Minister says.

Norway chairs the international donor coordination group for the Palestinian people, the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC). During his trip, Mr Brende will have meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. He is scheduled to meet both Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

‘Egypt has taken an important initiative for a ceasefire, and it is encouraging that the Israeli security cabinet has voted to accept the proposal. I now appeal to Hamas to accept the Egyptian initiative. It is important that the violence ends for the sake of the civilian population on both sides. A ceasefire is also a prerequisite for any broader agreement to ease the blockade of Gaza,’ said Mr Brende.

‘The events of the past weeks in Gaza and the West Bank have once more underscored the importance of reaching a lasting political solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.

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