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OPT: Christian Aid sets out checklist for viable solution to Middle East conflict

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A new report by Christian Aid sets out for the first time a 'must do' checklist for a viable solution to the Middle East conflict without which all attempts to secure peace, human rights and an end to spiralling poverty will be doomed to failure.

The international community has repeatedly voiced a commitment to a viable Palestinian state, but what that actually means has never been properly defined. To redress this, the Christian Aid checklist shows what must happen to bring about a viable solution that will end the occupation and lead to justice for both the Israelis and Palestinians.

The report, Israel and Palestine: a Question of Viability, defines viability as the necessary conditions that allow sustainability and growth to flourish. The 11-point checklist includes: control over natural resources, such as land and water; freedom of movement; and control over the collection and use of financial resources.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Six-Day War, after which Israel gained control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The current surge in factional violence in Gaza highlights the need to take steps without delay if further human misery is to be avoided in the region and before the rapidly changing facts on the ground become permanent and rule out any lasting solution.

'As many of our Palestinian and Israeli partners have pointed out, facts on the ground are being created that undermine the whole notion of a viable Palestinian state,' says William Bell, Christian Aid's Advocacy Officer for the Middle East. 'Their message is urgent: time is running out as land continues to be confiscated, illegal Israeli settlements expand and construction of the 703km separation barrier Israel is building throughout the West Bank continues.'

Christian Aid also calls on the international community to stop subsidising the 40-year occupation of the Palestinian territories through aid and instead take steps to resolve the conflict. Aid is a lifeline but is not the answer.

'More aid is going to the Occupied Palestinian Territories than ever before, and yet the political and humanitarian situation continues to get worse,' says Mr Bell. 'Since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in 1993, the international community has provided some $10 billion in aid, including over £380 million from the UK government. Yet Palestinian poverty levels continue to rise: from 20 per cent in 1998 to a staggering 65 per cent today.'

Christian Aid believes it is unacceptable that European taxpayers continue to bear the increasing costs of alleviating humanitarian suffering, while the EU - the largest donor to the Palestinians and one of Israel's largest trading partners - is not taking more steps to engage both parties in coming together in search of a viable solution.

Responsibility ultimately lies with the Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a solution. But Christian Aid urges the international community to take immediate action to bring the two sides to the negotiating table in order to help broker a viable solution.

For further information or to arrange interviews contact Anjali Kwatra on 020 7523 2460 or 07941 371357.