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Goff welcomes Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

Hon Phil Goff - Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

9 February 2005

Goff welcomes Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says the ceasefire declared after the summit between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a significant step towards a peaceful future for the Middle East.

“The commitment by both leaders to a ceasefire presents a chance for the peace process to get back on track," Mr Goff said.

"New Zealand continues to regard the Road Map, involving direct dialogue and progressive action by Israel and the Palestinians with the support of the international community, as the best hope for progress in the Middle East.

"We once again urge both sides to re-engage in the Road Map process, and we will continue to do what we can to support such a move.

"There are a number of sensitive issues to be worked through by the two sides if the ceasefire agreement is to be meaningful, and this is going to take time. However the positive atmosphere of the summit is encouraging, as are the genuine efforts of both sides to look for opportunities to advance the process."

Mr Goff said the election of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas last month had presented an opportunity to reinvigorate the peace process, and last night's summit in Egypt had continued the momentum.

"It is now vital that both sides ensure that this ceasefire holds. There have been a number of ceasefires agreed in the past that failed to develop into a longer-term, more meaningful disengagement in hostilities.

"On this occasion it is to be hoped that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority will not be deterred by any acts that might be perpetrated by extremists intent on derailing the current agreement. This opportunity to build a lasting peace is too valuable to lose," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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