Blair praises gov't's move to allow more Gaza exports

Quartet representative says that Israel can still do more to help Gazans; B'Tselem welcomes move as well.

311_Gaza crossing (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
311_Gaza crossing
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Quartet Representative Tony Blair on Wednesday welcomed the Security Cabinet's decision to allow further exports from Gaza.
"The Israeli government has today taken another important step, which follows its decision from June of this year to change Israel's policy towards imports to Gaza," said Blair. "Allowing exports is key for the revitalization of Gaza's economy and job creation and can be done in accordance with Israel's security needs. It will help strengthen the legitimate private sector and alleviate some of the hardship faced by local businessmen."
After praising the Israeli government's decision on Wednesday, Blair also emphasized his belief that Israel could do more to ease the hardship felt by the civilian population of Gaza. "There is, of course, still much more to do for the people of Gaza, not least in the area of construction, water and power and we will continue to move forward on these issues," he added.
The Security Cabinet's decision Wednesday to loosen even further the blockade on exports from Gaza to improve the economic situation there answers one of the demands of numerous countries around the world over the last few months.
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Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser issued a statement saying the decision was intended to increase economic activity in the Gaza Strip and "make things easier for the population in Gaza which is under a terrorist and oppressive Hamas regime."

The statement said that along with attempts to improve the economic situation in Gaza, Israel continues to call on the international community to continue its boycott of the Hamas government and abide by the Quartet principles whereby there will be no engagement with Hamas until the organization forswears terrorism, recognizes Israel and accepts previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The statement also called on the international community to take all measures to prevent the arming of Hamas and other terrorist organizations with missiles aimed at Israel's civilian population.
"A continuation of this armament is against international law, harms the interest of the population that lives in Gaza and will harm Israel's ability to continue with steps to improve the economic situation in the Gaza Strip," the statement read.
Human rights group B'Tselem welcomed the security cabinet's decision. In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, the group expressed hope "that the change of policy stems from an understanding that Israel must stop using its control over the crossings with Gaza for collective punishment of its population."
However, B'Tselem noted that the "true test" of the government's decision is in its implementation.
"In the past, even while allowing imports and exports, Israel placed arbitrary restrictions that impaired trade. Israel must take all necessary steps, subject to security restrictions, to allow the free flow of goods," the statement said.