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Issue of Jerusalem must be resolved through direct negotiations between parties, UN chief stresses
by António Guterres
United Nations News
7 Dec. 2017
In the wake of the announcement by the United States President recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday stressed that there is no alternative to the two-state solution and that Jerusalem is an issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the parties.
“In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: there is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B,” said Mr. Guterres, speaking to the press at UN Headquarters in New York.
In his remarks, the UN chief noted that it is only by realizing the vision of two states “living side-by-side in peace, security and mutual recognition, with Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and Palestine, and all final status issues resolved permanently through negotiations,” that the legitimate aspirations of both peoples will be achieved.
“I understand the deep attachment that Jerusalem holds in the hearts of so many people. It has been so for centuries and it will always be,” he added.
He also noted that since he took up his post as UN Secretary-General, he has consistently spoken out against any unilateral measures that would jeopardize the prospect of peace for Israelis and Palestinians.
“For my part as the UN Secretary-General, I will do everything in my power to support the Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to meaningful negotiations and to realize this vision of a lasting peace for both people,” he stated.

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Marriage equality law passes Australia''s parliament
by Reuters, ABC News, agencies
7 Dec. 2017
Australia’s parliament has legislated for marriage equality, passing a bill almost unanimously to allow two people, regardless of sex, to marry.
On Thursday the House of Representatives passed a cross-party bill after an unprecedented national postal survey gave unstoppable momentum to legislate the historic social reform.
Australia, which changed the law in 2004 to say that marriage is only between a man and a woman, now becomes the 26th country to recognise same-sex marriage.
The lower house passed the marriage equality bill with almost all members of the governing Liberal-National Coalition joining Labor, the Greens, and crossbench MPs in a free vote to pass the bill which cleared the Senate last week without amendment.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, declared the vote carried, since fewer than five MPs opposed it, triggering a standing ovation from the parliamentarians and public gallery.
The prime minister Malcolm Turnbull told the house: “We’ve voted today for equality, for love,” he said. “This is Australia: fair, diverse, loving and filled with respect.”
The Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten said that LGBTI Australians were now equal and the laws reflect “a modern Australia, inclusive and fair”.
The author of the cross-party bill, senator Dean Smith – the first openly gay federal parliamentarian in the Liberal party – said the historic social reform was “owned by everyone, it is owned by the Australian people”. He credited advocates for the “great struggle for many, many years”.
When Malcolm Turnbull took the prime ministership from his conservative predecessor, Tony Abbott, in September 2015, he retained the Coalition’s commitment to hold a national plebiscite on same-sex marriage before changing the law.
Labor, the Greens and other opposition parties blocked the proposed plebiscite in the Senate in November 2016 and August 2017 arguing for a free vote in parliament, leading the Turnbull government to launch a $100m voluntary national postal survey to fulfil its election commitment to give Australians a say.
In a bruising three-month campaign, opponents of marriage equality claimed same-sex marriage would have far-reaching negative consequences for gender education and claimed it would harm religious freedom and freedom of speech.
The yes camp’s Equality Campaign combined with moderate Liberals, Labor, the Greens, unions and progressive organisations to argue that same-sex marriage was a matter of equality and fairness.
On 15 November the Australian Bureau of Statistics announced that 61.6% of Australians who took part voted yes, an overwhelming win that led to Smiths’ cross-party bill being passed unamended by both houses of parliament.
Australia now becomes the 26th nation to legalise same-sex marriage.
The laws, which will also recognise same-sex marriages carried out in foreign countries, take effect from Saturday. Because a month''s notice is required for the state to recognise a marriage, the first legal same-sex unions will be in January.
Five-time Olympic gold-medal winner, the swimmer Ian Thorpe, who came out in 2014, said the law reflected contemporary Australia.
"It will give each of us the sense of what modern Australia is, and is, in fact, the way that most of us see this country as being, and will allow LGBTQI people in our nation to know that fairness is one of our values," he told reporters in Canberra.
* Same-sex marriage is legal in 26 nations: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Uruguay, United States.


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