PALESTINIAN FM RIYAD AL-MALIKI SAYS JERUSALEM CORE OF CONFLICT WITH ISRAEL

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Jerusalem is the core of the conflict with Israel, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said on Saturday.

“The continued Israeli occupation, settlement construction and the blockade of the Gaza Strip were the main cause of all problems and the ongoing cycle of conflict,” al-Maliki said in a statement.

The chief diplomat said the Israeli escalation in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem was an “evidence that Israel was keen on enforcing a Jewish and Israeli character across the holy city by replacing the indigenous Palestinian population with settler newcomers”.

“The focus of Palestinian diplomacy remains on the issue of Jerusalem,” al-Maliki said, going on to affirm that the Palestinian diplomacy has “achieved greater interest in the Palestinian cause“.

On Friday, an Egyptian brokered cease-fire between Palestinian resistance groups and Israel came into effect, putting an end to 11 days of fighting.

At least 279 Palestinians have been killed, including 69 children and 40 women, and 1,910 others injured in Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Twelve Israelis have also been killed by Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with Palestinians hoping East Jerusalem, now occupied by Israel, might eventually serve as capital of a future Palestinian state.