Israel Announces ‘More Positive’ Gaza Land Blockade

June 17, 2010

(ChattahBox)—Israel, amid pressure from the UN and Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair, has agreed to ease the land blockade of the Gaza Strip. The details are not clear, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement specifically mentioning that construction materials would now be permitted to enter Gaza under international supervision.

Netanyahu met with his cabinet on Wednesday to seek approval for a new blockade plan negotiated with envoy Tony Blair. Materials not allowed into Gaza would be placed on a blacklist:

“The security cabinet will discuss and likely approve a plan outlined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Quartet envoy to the Mideast Tony Blair, which focuses on consolidating a list of goods that will not be allowed into Gaza. All goods that do not appear on that list would be transferred into the coastal strip.

The lack of building materials has severely hampered rebuilding efforts in the war-torn coastal strip:

“Israel has barely allowed in materials like cement and steel, arguing that Hamas militants could use them to build weapons and fortifications. That policy has prevented Gaza from rebuilding after Israel’s fierce war in the territory last year. There was no mention in the statement of any change in other damaging aspects of the blockade, like bans on exports or allowing in raw materials used in industrial production.”

The so-called Mideast Peace Quartet, consisting of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the U.S., have been pushing for a more humane alternative to the three-year land and naval blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Robert Serry, the UN special envoy for Middle East peace process, said a different approach is needed. The flotilla crisis is the latest symptom of a failed policy,” said Serry. “The situation in Gaza is unsustainable and the current policy is unacceptable and counter-productive, and requires a different, more positive strategy,” added Serry during a UN Security Council session.

The naval blockade of the Gaza strip will remain unchanged. Netanyahu’s statement said, Israel will “continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material.”


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