– There is an urgent need to deliver sufficient emergency aid to Gaza. We must also prevent the conflict between Israel and Hamas from escalating further and having serious regional consequences. If we want to achieve lasting peace, we must think beyond weapons. We must already, in the midst of this conflict, think about what will happen next, says Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
Today, heads of state, ministers and representatives from several countries met in Cairo to discuss the enormous human suffering in Gaza and the possibilities for a future solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
During the meeting, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide stressed that all parties must respect international humanitarian law and that all self-defense measures must be necessary and proportionate.
– All warring parties have a duty to protect civilians, hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure. Civilian buildings must not be used for military purposes. Civilians should never be used as shields, says Eide.
Norway has been clear about Israel’s right to self-defense.
– All acts of self-defense must be carried out in accordance with humanitarian law. Civilians must be protected. This applies to all parties, says Eide.
Emergency assistance is urgently needed
The need to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza was a central theme of the meeting. So far, around a million people have fled their homes in Gaza. This represents almost half of Gaza’s population.
– It gives hope that a first emergency aid convoy has now entered Gaza. But there is an urgent need to deliver enough humanitarian aid to Gaza’s hard-hit population, Eide said.
He believes that the parties have a duty to allow the arrival of emergency aid.
– We ask the parties for a humanitarian pause to allow, among other things, the arrival of emergency aid. Humanitarian access must therefore be maintained and expanded. The needs are enormous. International law requires that the population have access to humanitarian aid and be protected from the worst effects of war, even if fighting continues. The most important action that will prevent the suffering of the population is to restore access to water and electricity from Israel, says Eide.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs also launched a strong call for the release of some 200 Israeli hostages still held in Gaza.
– I demand that all hostages in Gaza be released immediately. The International Committee of the Red Cross must have access to all those taken hostage, says the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Around 200 Norwegian citizens are still in Gaza. Among them, around a hundred are children. During the meeting, Eide expressed concern that no one has so far been able to leave Gaza.
– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still working extensively to deal with this crisis. Our main objective is to get the approximately 200 Norwegian citizens out of Gaza. We are very concerned about their situation. There is currently no safe place in Gaza, Eide explains.
At the Cairo meeting, the long-term solution was also a central topic. The Foreign Minister highlighted Norway’s continued support for the two-state solution.
– Whatever the outcome of the current war, I am convinced that there is no alternative to the resumption of political talks and the continuation of the peace process. Thirty years after the Oslo Accords, Norway continues to believe that the two-state solution and the end of the occupation will benefit both sides and that it will be the best solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, says Eide.
– This process has been blocked for too long and development on the ground has been following a negative direction for many years. The goal must always be a two-state solution. But to move forward, all parties must be willing to think outside the box and actually contribute to making it happen.
Increased humanitarian support
During the meeting, Eide announced a new Norwegian contribution of NOK 60 million to the United Nations Organization for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), for its humanitarian work.
– As head of the Palestine Donor Group (AHLC), I encourage the international community to continue providing financial support to the Palestinian people. Now is not the time to turn our backs on the Palestinian people, says Eide.
– Contribution to humanitarian efforts now totals NOK 200 million. In addition to what was previously allocated, we are now reallocating aid that cannot be carried out because of the war, so that it can be useful as emergency aid, explains Eide.
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