Wong calls for 'sustainable ceasefire' during East tour

January 15, 2024 4:40 pm

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong [Source: Reuters]

Australia’s foreign minister called on Monday for a “sustainable ceasefire” in Gaza as she left for a Middle East tour that includes a visit to the occupied West Bank and meetings with the families of Israeli hostages.

Penny Wong said she would use the visits to Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates to advocate for a pathway out of the current conflict and a lasting peace in the form of a two-state solution.

Australia would also use its voice to push for more humanitarian assistance, greater protection of civilians and a de-escalation of regional tensions, she added.

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Australia backed a UN resolution for a Gaza ceasefire in December in a rare split with its ally, the U.S.

During her first stop in Israel, Wong will meet with government officials and families of hostages and survivors of the October 7 attack, which Israel said killed more than 1,200 people.

Australia supported Israel’s right to defend itself in response to “terrorism” but “the way it does so, matters,” Wong said in a statement that also called for the unconditional release of all hostages.

Wong will then travel to Jordan before visiting the West Bank, where she will meet representatives of communities affected by violence from Israeli settlers. Australia considers settlements illegal under international law.