(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
The Quartet and UN have welcomed Israel's decision to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip on Thursday, while Hamas and the Palestinian Authority condemned it as a public relations ploy.
RELATED:Israel to liberalize Gaza policyRattling the Cage: Dodo birds vs. HamasIsrael urges West against flotillas
"The Secretary-General is encouraged that the Israeli Government is reviewing its policy towards Gaza, and he hopes that today's decision by the Israeli security cabinet is a real step towards meeting needs in Gaza," Martin Nesirky, Ban's spokesman, said.
Nesirky added that Ban asked Robert Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to discuss the decision with the Israeli government and learn about additional steps of implementation.
"The United Nations continues to seek a fundamental change in policy as agreedy by the Quartet, so that humanitarian assistance, commercial goods and people are able to flow through functioning open crossings, and so that reconstruction can take place," Nesirky said.
"I welcome the Government of Israel’s decision to liberalize the policy on Gaza," said Quartet Representative Tony Blair on Thursday in response to the security cabinet's decision.
Blair added "as I have said in the past days, Israel has the clear right to defend itself and protect its security. The best way to do this is to ensure that weapons cannot reach Gaza whilst allowing into Gaza the items of ordinary daily life, including materials for the construction of homes, infrastructure and services as the UN have asked, and permitting legitimate business to revive."
The former British prime minister also said that the Quartet will continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Schalit, whose detention he called "totally unjustified."
However, both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were not impressed by
Israel's decision to liberalize the system under which humanitarian
goods are transferred into the Gaza Strip.
Nimer Hammad, political advisor to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that
the decision was "insufficient" and called for the reopening of all the
border crossings into the Gaza Strip.
In Gaza City, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Israel's decision
to allow more goods into the Gaza Strip was designed to "beautify" the
blockade and mislead public opinion.
The Palestinians, he said, are not asking for additional goods to be
allowed into the Gaza Strip. Rather, they are demanding the complete
lifting of the blockade and the reopening of all the border crossings,
as well as freedom of movement for all people."