Australia calls for Gaza ceasefire in joint statement with NZ and Canada | Israel-Gaza war #Australia #calls #Gaza #ceasefire #joint #statement #Canada #IsraelGaza #war

The prime ministers of Australia, New Zealand and Canada have called for a sustainable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and an end to the “continuous suffering” of its citizens.

“We are alarmed at the diminishing safe space for civilians in Gaza,” a joint statement released on Wednesday said, as the Israeli bombardment of Hamas militants in the enclave continued.

“The price of defeating Hamas cannot be the continuous suffering of all Palestinian civilians.”

Health authorities in the Hamas-run Gaza say the death toll from Israel’s offensive has passed 18,000.

The Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, and his New Zealand and Canadian counterparts, Chris Luxon and Justin Trudeau, said they wanted a resumption of the recent pause in fighting and supported “urgent international efforts towards a sustainable ceasefire”.

But they said any ceasefire “cannot be one-sided”.

“Hamas must release all hostages, stop using Palestinian civilians as human shields and lay down its arms,” they said.

The three leaders condemned “Hamas’ unacceptable treatment of hostages” and called for the immediate and unconditional release of the captives.

The Australian and Canadian governments both consider Hamas a terrorist organisation while New Zealand authorities have designated the entity’s military wing a terrorist group.

The joint statement condemned Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October and the “heinous acts of violence perpetrated in those attacks, including sexual violence”, after militants killed 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages.

The three governments recognised Israel’s right to defend itself but said civilians and civilian infrastructure “must be protected”.

“In defending itself, Israel must respect international humanitarian law,” they said.

There was “no role for Hamas in the future governance of Gaza”, the leaders said while opposing “the forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, the re-occupation of Gaza, any reduction in territory and any use of siege or blockade” and backing a two-state solution.

Addressing developments in the West Bank, the joint statement described Israeli settlements and settler violence as “serious obstacles to a negotiated two-state solution”.

“We condemn rising antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arab sentiment in our countries and around the world and remain firmly committed to combatting prejudice, hatred, and violent extremism,” the three prime ministers said.

The Australian foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong, is expected to visit Israel and other countries in the Middle East in January.

The 193-member United Nations General Assembly was due to vote to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the conflict on Wednesday after the United States vetoed such a move in the Security Council.

The top Palestinian diplomat in Australia on Tuesday called on the government to vote in support of a ceasefire at the General Assembly.

#Australia #calls #Gaza #ceasefire #joint #statement #Canada #IsraelGaza #war

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