Monday, January 19, 2009

Cease-fire -- as Europe pledges to keep Hamas from re-arming

Haaretz reports that One day after Israel announced a unilateral cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, six key European leaders on Sunday pledged to work to prevent Hamas from rearming:
The commitments were offered both at the Sharm al-Sheikh summit in Egypt and at a meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

The six leaders - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian President Silvio Berlusconi, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, who currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency - offered to provide troops and technological assistance to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons and terrorists into the Gaza Strip, in cooperation with Egypt and the United States.

They expressed support for the cease-fire in Gaza and for an end to Palestinian rocket fire on southern Israel.

Olmert said that on Saturday, he also received a letter from EU leaders pledging cooperation in halting the arms smuggling into Gaza.

At the start of the Jerusalem meeting, Olmert said that Israel has no intention of staying in the Gaza Strip or reconquering it, despite its three-week offensive on the Hamas-ruled coastal territory.

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During the January 18th' Angelus, Pope Benedict offered a prayer for the victims of violence in the Holy Land:

"Let us also bring before the Lord today the hundreds of children, old people, women who are innocent victims of the inconceivable violence, the wounded, those who are grieving for their loved ones and those who have lost their possessions," he said.

"I also invite you to accompany with your prayers the efforts of numerous persons of good will who are trying to stop the tragedy," the Pontiff continued. "I sincerely hope that it is seen how to profit, with wisdom, from the space opened up to reinstate the truce and move toward peaceful and durable solutions."

"In this regard, I renew my encouragement of those who, on the one side and on the other, believe that in the Holy Land there is room for all, that they help their people to rise up from the rubble and terror and courageously take up again the thread of dialogue in justice and truth," affirmed Benedict XVI. "This is the only way that they can effectively unlock a future of peace for the children of that dear land!"