EU to propose lifting Israeli blockade of Gaza: Spain

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The European Union will present in the coming days a proposal for lifting the Israeli blockade of Gaza, following a deadly raid this week on aid ships bound for the Palestinian territory, Spain's foreign minister said Saturday.

Miguel Angel Moratinos, with Spain currently holding the rotating EU presidency, said he had spoken with the office of the bloc's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.

"We spoke with the team of the chief (foreign) representative yesterday and we are going to make a proposal over the next few days so that situations like the ones that happened (this week) will not be repeated," said Moratinos about the proposal for lifting the Israeli blockade put in place after the militant group Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip.

"The European Union can play a leading role in this situation," Moratinos said when asked about the consequences of Monday's raid on ships carrying humanitarian aid by Israeli forces that left nine people dead.

Spain had condemned the Israeli action and summoned the Jewish state's ambassador to Madrid for an explanation.

As for the US-initiated talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, Moratinos said that "the indirect negotiations are going to proceed. We have spoken with the parties and it appears they are going to proceed."

Moratinos made his comments on the sidelines of a meeting between members of the European Parliament and the US Congress in Madrid.

Across Europe Saturday thousands protested against the deadly botched raid on the aid flotilla, as Israel peacefully boarded another ship attempting to defy its blockade of Gaza.

© 2010 AFP

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