EU ministers: 'End Gaza blockade'

Foreign ministers meet; demand immediate impartial flotilla inquiry.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
June 14, 2010 20:02
3 minute read.
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eu flag 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The European Union's council of foreign ministers issued a statement on Gaza on Monday, demanding an impartial inquiry into the flotilla with international representation, an end to the Gaza blockade with guarantees of Israel's security, the release of captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and an end to the firing of rockets into Israel.

Concerning the flotilla, they demanded "an immediate, full and impartial inquiry into these events and the circumstances surrounding them. To command the confidence of the international community this should include credible international participation."

It is not clear from this statement if the EU consider that the committee appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu meets requirements.

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On the Gaza blockade the EU ministers said: "The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive... ...in line with UN Security Council Resolution 1860, the EU reiterates its call for an immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza including goods from the West Bank."

Regarding Israeli security concerns they said the blockade end must include "a solution that addresses Israel's legitimate security concerns including a complete stop to all violence and arms smuggling into Gaza."  The ministers expressed a willingness to help Israel implement this.

The minister's were addressed by the Quartet's middle-east mediator, Tony Blair, who earlier said that he believed Israel would ease its blockade.  This part of the statement may reflect Blair's influence on the minsters.

Part of the EU statement was also addressed to Hamas. The Ministers said they "deplore the continuing acts of rocket fire. All those responsible must take immediate and concrete steps to cease and prevent such violence. The Council calls on those holding the abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to release him without delay. Hamas must also unconditionally allow ICRC access and end its interference with the operations of NGOs and UN agencies in Gaza."

Earlier in the day, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Israel's planned internal investigation into the Gaza flotilla raid falls short of UN Security Council demands.

Abbas also said "Israel must lift the blockade ... That is our principal and permanent demand."

He added that peace negotiations with Israel would be suspended if no progress is made by the coming autumn.

The PA president's comments came after a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris . Asked about Israel's announcement that it would hold an investigation under an Israeli judge and with two outside experts, Abbas said this "does not correspond" with Security Council demands that the Palestinians had approved.

Abbas visit to Paris was part of a trip that has already seen him in Washington and Spain.



Ankara does not trust the probe either Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu was quoted as saying Monday.

"We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation," AFP quoted Davutoglu as saying.

He called for an investigation to be held "under the direct control of the United Nations... with the participation of Turkey and Israel."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on June 5 that the IDF raid of the Mavi Marmara should be investigated by a New Zealand-led committee, with Israeli and Turkish deputies.

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