The power station destroyed by the Israelis in Gaza

Dialog Urged in Middle East

Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Eliasson has criticised both sides for the escalation of the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In a statement posted on the ministry website Friday, Eliasson, who is also president of the United Nations General Assembly, calls for an immediate end to violations of international law, saying that the suffering of the civilian population of Gaza grows worse as the Israeli military actions continue. But he also says rocket attacks on Israeli territory by Palestinian militants are contributing to an evil cycle of violence.

Eliasson says that Sweden and the EU are working to get Israel to take responsibility for electricity and water supplies in Gaza, after the destruction of the area’s power station.

The foreign minister’s remarks were echoed Saturday in a joint statement from Swedish non-governmental organizations and several political parties, gathered on the island of Gotland for the annual political week.

The Visby Declaration, from the Swedish Red Cross, the Swedish branch of Amnesty International, Save the Children, the Lutheran Church of Sweden and two other Christian aid and peace bodies, urges both sides in the Middle East conflict to end violence and respect international law. The statement, which calls on both sides to resume dialog, was also signed by the heads of the Left, Center, and Green parties.

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