EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton says Gaza's borders must open to enable the territory's battered economy to recover.
"There needs to be an opening of the crossings to allow the flow of people and goods in both directions," Ashton said at a news conference Saturday with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
Gaza residents must be able to lead normal lives, she said.
Ashton, Fayyad in Ramallah (Photo: AFP)
Meanwhile Fayyad urged Israel to completely lift the blockade it imposed on the Strip, stressing that Gaza's economy would not be able to survive through imports alone.
Ashton is to tour Gaza on Sunday to gauge whether Israel's decision to ease its three-year-old blockade of the Hamas-ruled territory has improved the lives of Gazans.
Ashton is expected to visit the Strip for several hours and is not expected to meet any Hamas officials during the tour. According to plan, she will visit UNRWA facilities and various EU-funded projects aimed at assisting the local population.
Earlier this month, Israel said it would allow the import of most consumer goods to Gaza. At the time, Ashton characterized Israel's decision as "another significant step forward in the review of its policy on Gaza."
"Israel's new policy should improve the lives of the ordinary people of Gaza while addressing the legitimate security concerns of Israel," she said.