The diplomatic group in search of peace in the Middle East, or Quartet
yesterday held a meeting on the situation in Gaza and southern Israel, and
called for "an immediate cease-fire that would be fully respected," a conference
readout said here.
"They called on all parties to address the serious humanitarian and economic
needs in Gaza and to take necessary measures to ensure the continuous provision
of humanitarian supplies," it said.
Quartet groups the United Nations, the European Union (EU), Russia and the
"They agreed on the urgent need for Israelis and Palestinians to continue on
the road to peace," it said.
Participating in the teleconference were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice,
Javier Solana, the EU high representative for common foreign and security
policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European commissioner for external
relations, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, and Quartet
Representative Tony Blair, the statement said.
"They intend to remain in close touch," it added.
The Quartet teleconference came as Israel hit the Gaza Strip with more air
strikes on Tuesday and both Israel and Hamas rejected any notion of cease-fire
soon. As the conflict passed its third day, there seems to be no quick end to
the largest Israeli attacks on Gaza in decades.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) warned yesterday that
hundreds of wounded people in Gaza hospitals face a surge in preventable deaths
due to the lack of medical supplies, and the UN agency called for an immediate
end to hostilities and urged Israel to ensure immediate provision of fuel and
critical life-saving and trauma care supplies.
"Hundreds of wounded people, including women, children and elderly, lie in
hospitals that already lack basic supplies," WHO said of Israel's air strikes
against Hamas, in which more than 300 people were killed and many hundreds more
Negotiations with the Israelis are under way to guarantee the passage of
urgent medical supplies, the agency said, adding that it was also coordinating
with other UN agencies, donors and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to
ensure aid reach those most in need.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), in a statement issued here, voiced its deep
concern over the impact of the current violence on youngsters and urged all
parties to abide by their international legal obligation to ensure that children
be protected and receive essential humanitarian supplies and support. More than
half of the population in Gaza are children.