Arab League FMs: Israel to blame for Gaza crisis

Say Israel, "as an occupying power," should end the blockade of Gaza.

donkey Rafah 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
donkey Rafah 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Arab League foreign ministers said Monday that Israel was fully responsible for the deterioration in the Gaza Strip and demanded that the Jewish state lift the blockade immediately , open crossing points and allow humanitarian supplies through. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have traveled into Egypt in recent days after breaking through the Gaza-Egypt border fence. The border was breached a number of days after Israel announced it was stopping fuel shipments to Gaza. "Israel, as an occupying power, is fully responsible for the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian territories and should immediately stop all its continued aggressions against the civilians and end the blockade and the collective punishment policy," read a statement issued by the ministers at the end of their meeting in Cairo Monday. The foreign ministers also urged the UN Security Council to "shoulder its responsibility to stop [Israeli] aggression, lift the siege on Gaza and protect its people and their right in accordance with international law." The ministers called on all parties to resume the work to open all the crossing points under internationally-agreed arrangements to avoid a recurrence of what is happening on the Gaza-Egypt border. They also welcomed the Palestinian Authority's readiness to take on responsibility for all the crossing points into Gaza. Egypt wants to restore shared control of the border among the Palestinian Authority, Israel, and European Union monitors, but the militant Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority from the border after violently seizing Gaza in June. Since then, Israel and Egypt have kept Gaza largely sealed. Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit told reporters Sunday that Egypt wanted to stick to the standing international agreement, but Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza City has said that the agreement is history, and the Palestinian people will not accept turning back to the old procedure. Hamas says its main objection to the old system is that Israel uses cameras and computers to track everyone who passes in and out of Gaza. Hamas is dispatching a delegation to Egypt to discuss Rafah security on Wednesday - the same day Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets in Cairo with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. But the rival Palestinian factions will likely meet separately with Egyptian officials. Abbas has refused to talk to Hamas until the group gives up control of Gaza.