Monday, June 14, 2010

Israel / Palestine

Israel Promises to Ease Its Three Year Blockade of Gaza
The Times, June 14, 2010
"Tony Blair announced today that Israel would agree to re-open crossings into Gaza for everyday goods within days, bringing to an end its strict three-year crackdown on supplies. The Middle East envoy said that Binyamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, had agreed in principle to change its current approach -- deemed illegal today by the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) -- by drawing up a list of specifically prohibited items to replace the current narrow list of permitted goods. Mr. Blair also welcomed Mr. Netanyahu's announcement last night of an inquiry into its bloody storming last month of an aid flotilla. Israel has appointed Lord Trimble, the former First Minister of Northern Ireland, as one of two international observers to its inquiry being held by a senior Israeli judge.
The Times understands that Mr. Blair recommended Lord Trimble for the role. Mr. Blair this morning briefed EU foreign ministers on Israel's shifting policy towards Gaza in the wake of the flotilla raid on May 31 which left nine Turkish men dead. The 27 foreign ministers are still considering their official reaction to the proposed inquiry, with some countries favouring a more independent probe than that announced by Israel. 'The issue of the inquiry continues to be an issue of strong political debate ... but the Israeli inquiry is obviously a significant step forward,' said Mr. Blair as he left the meeting in Luxembourg. 'In respect of the closure policy, I hope very much that in the next days we will get the in-principle commitment that we require, but then also the steps beginning to be taken.' [...]"

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