New UN peace envoy visits Gaza for first time, calls for end to Israel's blockade

Nickolay Mladenov, who replaced Robert Serry as UN peace envoy in February, laments failure to implement Palestinian unity deal.

Navy patrols off the coast of Gaza (photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)
Navy patrols off the coast of Gaza
(photo credit: YAAKOV LAPPIN)
The UN's new envoy to the Middle East peace process made his first trip to the Gaza Strip on Thursday, calling for an end to Israel's 8-year blockade of the coastal enclave.
Nickolay Mladenov, who formerly served as Bulgaria's minister of foreign affairs from 2010 to 2013 and minister of defense from 2009 to 2010, replaced Robert Serry as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's  Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Personal Representative to the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority in February.
"We in the United Nations, along with our partners in the international community, have a responsibility to ensure that Gaza is not just being reconstructed... but that the blockade which stops access to construction materials, to movement of people, goods... is lifted," AFP quoted Mladenov as saying in Gaza on Thursday.
Mladenov also lamented the failure to implement the Palestinian unity deal that Hamas and Fatah signed last year.
"I strongly believe that it will hurt the cause of the Palestinian people if division, if the lack of unity, is not addressed as soon as possible," he said.
"I hope that the United Nations will be able to support the efforts to strengthen this unity," he added.