Berlin heralds 'positive signal' in Israel's Gaza policy
Germany's foreign minister welcomed a change in Israel's policy towards Gaza Friday, saying an invitation to European foreign policy chiefs to visit the Palestinian territory represents a "positive signal".
"We are noticing a change in Israeli government policy concerning the Gaza Strip and we see this as a positive signal, coming the day after numerous telephone calls," Guido Westerwelle said during a stopover in Romanian capital Bucharest on a tour of Eastern Europe.
"This is a good, positive development, and Europe has played a role," said the minister.
Israel officially invited Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to lead a delegation of European foreign ministers to Gaza, signalling a change in the diplomatic blockade on the isolated Palestinian enclave.
"Yesterday, I spoke with my Italian counterpart Mr Frattini and we have decided to consider this invitation," he said.
"Given that this is a difficult internal political problem for the Israeli government, we regard it as a particularly positive signal," he said.
Under international pressure following its deadly May 31 raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Israel announced last week the lifting of a ban on goods strictly for civilian use entering Gaza that had been in place since the capture of an Israeli soldier four years ago.
Frattini said in a statement Friday that he had "taken note of the Israeli proposal and will give a response after discussing it with his European and international partners".
© 2010 AFP