UN AND PARTNERS WELCOME ISRAEL’S EASING OF GAZA BLOCKADE
21 June - The United Nations and its partners in the search for Middle East peace today welcomed Israel's decision to allow more civilian goods into the Gaza Strip, saying that implementation of the new policy will help meet the needs of the territory's inhabitants and address Israel's security concerns.
“Full and effective implementation will comprise a significant shift in strategy towards meeting the needs of Gaza's population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity as well as the security needs of Israel,” the Quartet – made up of the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States – said in a statement.
The group said that it will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and other concerned parties to ensure that the new arrangements are implemented as quickly as possible.
The Quartet also pledged to actively explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, encourage involvement of the PA at the crossings and promote greater commerce between the West Bank and Gaza, the statement added.
Acknowledging that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded, the Quarter said it believed that efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.
It pledged to work with Israel and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza, and urged all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza.
The Quartet deplored the continuing detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and called for his release ahead of the fourth anniversary of his capture on 25 June. It condemned what it said was a violation by Hamas of its international obligation to provide the International Committee of the Red Cross access to Mr. Shalit, and demanded the Palestinian group does so immediately.
Members also reiterated their support for proximity talks toward the resumption, without pre-conditions, of direct bilateral negotiations that resolve all final status issues as previously agreed by the parties.
“The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbours,” it added.