Blair at Kerem Shalom
Photo: Roee Idan

Blair: Help Gazans, free Shalit

Quartet envoy to Middle East visits Kerem Shalom crossing to inspect change in Israeli policy after government decides to ease siege on Strip. Soldier kidnapped by Hamas should be released as soon as possible and without preconditions, he says

Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair arrived at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday to inspect the change in Israel's policy after the government decided to ease the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip.


The goal is to help Gaza's residents change their lives and to give them hope, he said.


Blair added that he hoped Israel would continue easing the blockade in the coming weeks, a move which he said would improve the relations between Israel and the Palestinians.


A lot of work is being done here, he said, adding that the inflow of equipment for United Nations projects would be increased, including water infrastructures, sanitation, and construction of schools.


Blair briefed by Major-General Dangot (Photo: Roee Idan)


The Quartet envoy said he hoped the peace process would gain momentum and that Israel would move forward to direct talks in their negotiations with the Palestinians.


Mentioning the Israeli soldier who has been held by Hamas for the past four years, Blair said he believed Gilad Shalit should be released as soon as possible and without any preconditions.


Blair visited the crossing together with Major-General Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of the government activities in the territories, and examined the goods sent into the Gaza Strip on Tuesday.


'New policy a welcome development'

The Quartet on Monday welcomed Israel's decision to ease its blockade of Gaza but said the situation in the territory remained "unsustainable and unacceptable".


In a statement agreed during a conference call, the Quartet - the United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations - said Israel's change of policy towards Gaza was encouraging but said much more needed to be done to alleviate pressure on the Palestinian territory's population.


"The new policy towards Gaza just announced by the government of Israel is a welcome development," read a statement agreed after the call, which involved Quartet envoy Tony Blair, US special envoy George Mitchell and EU foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton, among others.


"Full and effective implementation will comprise a significant shift in strategy towards meeting the needs of Gaza's population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity, as well as the security needs of Israel."


But the statement added that the "current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned."


פרסום ראשון: 06.22.10, 13:54
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