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EU: Lift Gaza siege immediately

European Union's Foreign Affairs Committee urges unconditional opening of Strip's crossings for humanitarian aid, goods; states that 'situation in Gaza cannot continue'

The European Union's Committee on Foreign Affairs urged Israel Monday to lift its siege on the Gaza Strip and open all Gaza crossings immediately.


The council called the blockage "unacceptable," adding that "the situation in Gaza cannot continue."


Delegates from the EU's 27 member states met in Luxembourg Monday afternoon, and discussed ways which would allow them to assist supervising the Gaza crossings.


A statement published following the meeting reiterated the EU's stand and called for the "immediate, prolonged and unconditional" opening of all Gaza crossings, in order to allow humanitarian aid, goods and people in and out of the Strip.


The European Union, said the statement, is willing to contribute to the formation and application of a mechanism which would allow Gaza to rehabilitate its economy.


That, added the statement, could be achieved through regular traffic on land, and possibly by sea, and though strict supervision over imported goods.


The council urges a solution which "considered Israel's legitimate security concerns, including the need to cease all violence and arms smuggling into Gaza."


Addressing the tragic events of the Gaza flotilla, the statement said the council "regrets the loss of life during the Israeli military operation in international waters," adding it denounces all acts of violence.


The EU foreign ministers called for an immediate, impartial investigation of the flotilla's events, as well as denounced Hamas' rocket firs on Israel.


The council also urged the immediate release of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, saying that Hamas should – at the very least – allow him Red Cross visitation.


The Quartet's Middle East envoy Tony Blair, who participated in the meeting, added that he hoped Israel will soon lift the three-year blockade from Gaza.


EU sources said that the council believed that there is a chance Israel would agree to open at least one of the Gaza crossings for the regular transport of goods.


European diplomats also ventured that Israel may soon update its list of Gaza contrabands, reducing the number of goods disallowed for security reasons.


According to the sources, Israel rejected the possibility of maritime shipments being inspected by an independent third party, such as Cyprus.


Meanwhile, the Coordination and Liaison Authority said that the volume of goods allowed into Gaza has increased by 10% since the beginning of 2010, as 1,950 trucks were allowed in the Strip in May.


Reuters contributed to this report 


פרסום ראשון: 06.14.10, 19:01
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