'We need to reconsider Gaza embargo'

Herzog says alternatives may serve Israel's security needs better.

yitzhak herzog welfare 248 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
yitzhak herzog welfare 248 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Gaza embargo consensus among Israel's leadership seemed to be cracking on Sunday as the government considered its response to the fallout from the flotilla interception incident.
"Israel needs to consider alternatives to the embargo on Gaza in the aftermath of the Gaza flotilla incident," Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) said at the opening of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. We need to prevent arms entering Gaza, but the embargo which has been in place since 2007 needs to be reconsidered.
“We need to ease the population’s conditions and find security-sensitive, worthy alternatives to the embargo,” Herzog said.
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The Campaign to Free Gilad Schalit responded to the possibility of lifting the blockade by demanding that a decision on that question should not be taken without a concomitant decision by the government to agree to the terms for a prisoner exchange demanded by Hamas for the release of Gilad Schalit, Army Radio reported.
“We’ve been told repeatedly this embargo is a lever Israel is using to lower Hamas demands, we’ve been doubtful about the effectiveness of this from the start, but gave the government credit, if Israel gives up this weak lever, it must commit itself to paying the price necessary to return Gilad Schalit,” Shimshon Liebman who leads the campaign said.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz also said earlier Sunday, during the Likud ministers’ meeting that the nature of the relation between Israel and Gaza needed to be reconsidered, saying that “since the disengagement from Gaza there is a relationship between Israel and Gaza that is unreasonable and wrong. We are no longer there, but we are still held responsible. This is a chance to sever all ties to Gaza, except for weapons-smuggling prevention.”
We need to find a solution for civilian goods being transferred to Gaza through Rafah and Egypt, with international participation, for instance by the US.
Late on Thursday night, PrimeMinister Binyamin Netanyahu said he was considering lettingmore goods into Gaza. The 'Septet,'  an inner cabinet  of seven ministers, met to debate what could be the first majorchange to the Gaza border restrictions that Israel imposedafter Hamas’s violent coup.
In spite of media reports to the contrary, Netanyahu has resisted international pressure to lift the naval blockade of Gaza.
Under pressure from the US, Netanyahu is now willing to reconsider hispolicy of closing the Gaza land passages to all but humanitariansupplies.
Israelin the past few months has increased the volume of goods entering Gazaby 20 percent and allowed more types of items into the Strip.