We are deeply concerned at the escalation of violence in the Palestinian territories and in Israel during the past days. We condemn in the strongest terms all acts of terrorism or violence and extend our condolences to the families of the victims on both sides.
We denounce the indiscriminate firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, directly harming civilians. These are criminal and unjustifiable acts. All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm.
We also condemn the loss of hundreds of Palestinians, among them many women and children. While recognizing Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against any attacks, the Israeli military operation must be proportionate and in line with international humanitarian law.
Bearing in mind that that the recent upsurge of violence in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza was triggered due to Israel’s settlement policy, we do stress that all settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory are illegal under international law. The Israeli authorities should cease these activities and provide adequate permits for legal construction and development of Palestinian communities.
Furthermore, we appeal for full respect of the Holy Sites. Any changes in the status quo would only have seriously destabilizing effects on the already tense atmosphere.
We underline that any violent action can only fuel extremism on both sides; urging all parties to refrain from any action that would worsen the situation by way of incitement, provocation, excessive use of force or retaliation.
We call on political leaders from all sides to work together through visible actions to de-escalate the situation and stress that non-violent means and respect for human rights and humanitarian law are the only way to achieve a sustainable solution and a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.