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Israel must stop all settlement activities to prevent more Palestinian conflict: Garneau

WATCH: Israeli settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank amount to a war crime, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday, calling on countries to inflict a cost on Israel for its "illegal occupation."

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau says he told his Israeli counterparts that evictions, demolitions and the building of settlements in East Jerusalem should cease to ease tensions and prevent another round of violence in the region.

Speaking to reporters at the end of a five-day tour of the Middle East, Garneau says Canada supports a two-state solution to end the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But he says there are more pressing short-term issues, including avoiding any further flare ups after a fragile ceasefire ended the latest round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas in May.

Read more: Trudeau speaks with Palestinian leader ahead of Garneau’s Middle East visit

Garneau says getting humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip is also a priority after the 11-day war that saw 230 people in the Hamas-run enclave killed and numerous houses and other infrastructure destroyed.

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Twelve Israelis were also killed in the fighting, which was precipitated by clashes over Israeli plans to evict several families from a predominantly Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem.

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Garneau began his Middle East tour last week in Jordan before heading to Israel where he met with the country’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett.

Garneau ended his visit today with a trip to the West Bank, where he met senior members of the Palestinian Authority.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on July 5, 2021.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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