Spain will propose the European Union exert strong diplomatic pressure on Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip, the country's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said on Saturday.

The Spanish prime minister said at a joint press conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Spain wants to "forge a strong common position" with EU countries in the face of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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Zapatero said Spain's Foreign Minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, would propose the EU deploy "all its political and diplomatic capability" to end the Gaza blockade at its foreign affairs council on Monday.

He said he was confident European countries would back the proposal, as well as efforts by White House Middle East envoy George Mitchell to try and rebuild trust between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

In the days following the Gaza flotilla raid, Abbas called for the UN Security Council to protect the Palestinians and end the blockade on Gaza.

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