Palestinian-Israeli negotiators reach agreement to end conflict

A Palestinian-Israel agreement reached late on Wednesday to end the ongoing Gaza conflict, the last major obstacle to a peace agreement, was hailed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a breakthrough in the “historic struggle for the future of our people.”

The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held their first phone call on Thursday to discuss the details of the agreement.

The deal would see the two sides end hostilities between Israel and Gaza, the second major obstacle in the process of a two-state solution.

The Palestinian delegation has also agreed to end a blockade of Gaza, which is aimed at isolating the Palestinian territory.

The PA has been pushing for the end of the blockade since 2014, but the UN Security Council has repeatedly blocked it.

On Wednesday, the PA’s chief envoy to the UN, Saad al-Khatib, said the two parties would “come to a consensus in the coming days” on the final deal.

Erekats office said the negotiators reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority that “significantly strengthens the Palestinian leadership’s commitment to peace, security and freedom for all people in the Middle East.”

Abbas has been calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Palestinian territories since last year, when the Israeli military killed hundreds of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Israel, which regards the blockade as illegal, imposed an additional four-week block on Gaza last week, despite the end to hostilities.

“The Palestinian leadership will implement this agreement in a responsible and effective way,” Abbas told a joint news conference with Erekatis.

“We will reach a final agreement to the end with the Israeli side and the Palestinian side.”

The PA president’s office said that the Palestinian delegation would discuss “the steps towards reaching a final peace agreement” with the Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday.

The negotiations between Israel, the Palestinian and international delegations have been marred by tension since early September, when Israel launched an unprecedented ground offensive in Gaza, targeting the Hamas-run enclave in an attempt to destroy the Islamist group’s rocket capabilities.

Israel responded by launching hundreds of missiles into Gaza, and the international community condemned the attack.

More than 3,100 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, which has claimed nearly 1,100 lives, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution that condemned the “unacceptable” attacks and called on the parties to “stop the Israeli aggression and violence in Gaza and ensure the right to self-determination for all Palestinian refugees in the territory of the State of Palestine.”

In its report on the Gaza conflict in July, the US State Department called the current situation in Gaza “extremely dangerous.”

In a statement, the agency said that “the continued use of disproportionate force by Israel and its allies in Gaza is a clear violation of international law.”

In an address to the nation, US President Donald Trump called the situation in the region “the greatest challenge we face.”

“Israel and its terrorist allies continue to attack Gaza in order to further their occupation and expansion of their illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied West Bank,” the president said.

The Israeli military has been carrying out its air campaign against Hamas since 2014 in order “to stop its rockets and missiles from reaching Israel,” the statement added.

A new UN Security council resolution passed in November called on Israel and the Palestinians to “end the blockade of both Gaza and the West Gaza Strip, and to cease all activities that aim to transfer civilian population in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Israel has rejected the resolution.

The current ceasefire deal, announced in February, came after the Palestinians accepted the terms of a peace plan last year.

Both sides agreed to cease fire in exchange for a temporary truce, but neither has done so.

A Palestinian-Israel agreement reached late on Wednesday to end the ongoing Gaza conflict, the last major obstacle to a peace…