Five EU ministers urge Israel to change Gaza policy

5th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The foreign ministers of Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Britain urged Israel to change its policy towards the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, Italy's foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

The five ministers "emphasise the need for a fundamental change of policy leading to a durable solution to the situation in Gaza, in line with the UNSC Resolution 1860," the ministry said in a statement.

The UN Security Council resolution passed last year calls for a full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, for Israel to allow the unimpeded supply of food, fuel and medical treatment, and for intensified international arrangements to counter arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

The five also said they hoped "the measures announced by the Government of Israel will soon be implemented."

Israel has said it would ease barriers on imports to Gaza and would allow all strictly "civilian" goods into the strip while preventing weapons and certain dual-use items from entering.

Earlier on Monday, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the Spanish, French and Italian foreign ministers would visit Gaza this month to check on Israel's plan to ease the blockade.

Israel imposed the sanctions on Gaza after soldier Gilad Shalit was snatched by members of the Islamist movement Hamas and other militant groups on June 25, 2006.

The closure was further tightened the following year when Hamas seized control of the territory.

International pressure on Israel to lift sanctions soared after its forces killed nine Turkish activists during a May 31 raid on a flotilla of aid ships attempting to run the blockade.

Earlier on Monday, Turkey said it would sever diplomatic ties with Israel unless it apologised over the operation, but the Israeli government replied that it would never say it is sorry for defending itself.

© 2010 AFP

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