The cessation of hostilities which has been in place since Friday, has delivered some relief after weeks of pain and suffering. However, more time is needed if we are to build on this progress.

We have all been moved by the images of released hostages reuniting with their families. But many more remain captive, their families in agony. Hamas should release all remaining hostages now and we must support every diplomatic endeavour to get them out as quickly as possible.

The last few weeks have been an unimaginable nightmare for innocent Palestinians. The civilians death toll, including women and children, has been far too high. We have seen some improved access to aid, food, water, fuel and medicine in Gaza, yet more time is needed to ease the unnecessary and intolerable humanitarian catastrophe. There are also urgent repairs to the civilian infrastructure that need to happen so that the aid can be distributed.

Therefore, I call on all parties to work urgently towards an agreement to extend this cessation of hostilities. This would allow the release of further hostages and deliver more humanitarian relief for those in desperate need. And an extension would undoubtably ease tensions across the region.

Israel needs to be assured that Hamas cannot carry out an attack like October 7 ever again. Palestinians needs to be assured that the future will not be like the past and they and their children will be able to enjoy the opportunities and rights that we take for granted. As well as allowing more hostages out and more aid in, an extension of the cessation of hostilities would also allow more work on ensuring that what follows the war is a political solution that avoids further violence.

The international community must engage with the government of Israel and regional allies on a strategy for the removal of the threat of Hamas and the reconstruction and renewal of Gaza that protects Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike and provides a steppingstone to a two-state solution, the only credible basis for lasting peace.

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