Tony Blair video: At EU, on Israel’s easing of the Gaza blockade

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    15th June, 2010

    UPDATE, 16th June: See BBC report and here at Al Jazeera – Israel delays Gaza embargo decision until tomorrow. AJ excerpt:

    “Israel’s security cabinet has adjourned making a decision on whether to ease the three year blockade of the Gaza Strip.

    Ministers had been expected to approve expanding a list of about 80 goods which are currently allowed into Gaza via overland crossings in a meeting on Wednesday.

    However, the security cabinet adjourned the meeting until Thursday without coming to any decision, a senior government official said.

    The proposal to ease the blockade was first announced earlier this week by Tony Blair, the envoy from the so-called international peace Quartet, comprised of the US, the UN, the European Union and Russia.

    It would allow the UN to ship much-needed construction materials into Gaza for its own use.”

    Quartet Rep Tony Blair sets out new policy for Gaza at EU meeting

    tonyblairoffice — 14 June 2010 — “I believe and hope that we can reach a situation where we get a policy which is right regarding security, and regarding the people of Gaza and which gives the people of Gaza eventually the prospects of joining a two-state solution.”

    More here, from Tony Blair’s Office:

    Tony Blair tells EU foreign ministers that Israel is ready to ease Gaza blockade

    Monday, Jun 14, 2010 in Office of Tony Blair, Office of the Quartet Representative

    Quartet Representative Tony Blair briefed EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg Monday on the situation in Gaza and Israel’s decision to greatly ease the blockade.

    “In the conversations I’ve had with the Israeli Prime Minister there is now, in principle, agreement” for Israel to allow goods in, Tony Blair told reporters after the meeting.

    “They will maintain the blockade with respect to arms and combat material but they are prepared to let in goods that are necessary for people’s ordinary lives,” he added.

    Tony Blair explained that Israel would abolish its list of items allowed to enter Gaza and instead draw up a list of prohibited items.

    “After my talks (with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu), there is now in principle a commitment by Israel to move to such a list.”

    Tony Blair told reporters: “This is a significant change … I believe and hope that we can, over this next period of days, reach a situation where we get a policy in respect of Gaza that is right for Israel’s security (and) is humane to the people in Gaza.”

    The Quartet Representative added: “Most of all we must give the people of Gaza some hope, some help and some prospects.

    “I believe and hope that we can reach a situation where we get a policy with regard to Gaza which is right regarding security, and regarding the people of Gaza and which gives the people of Gaza eventually the prospects of joining a two-state solution.”

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he was engaged in discussions on ways to meet Gaza’s humanitarian needs while preventing the entry of arms into the area.


    RELATED

    1. Guardian:

    At their meeting on Sunday, 11th June, 2010, Mr Netanyahu doesn't look quite as convinced as Mr Blair might hope. But it is progress. (Photo: Gpo/Getty Images.)

    Tony Blair said today he was hopeful of a “significant” easing of Israel‘s blockade of Gaza as EU foreign ministers gathered to discuss how to pressure Israel over the issue.

    The former British prime minister, now a Middle East peace envoy, said he saw no real prospect of Israel lifting the naval blockade of the territory. However, he said, it was possible the list of items permitted to be brought into Gaza by land could be redrafted to allow more necessities of ordinary life to enter.

    Blair said he hoped to see a series of changes in coming days. “First, that although the blockade will remain in respect of arms and combat material, the items for daily life come in as a matter of course,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

    He added: “I think it’s possible to get a role back for the EU and the Palestinian Authority in the way that these crossings, or some of them, are monitored.

    “The idea would be to make a significant change where the blockade would remain in respect of those items that are a security risk for Israel, but items for daily life will be able to come in.”

    2. And today – Israeli warns that naval blockade must continue

    ‘JERUSALEM — A top security official warned Tuesday that Israel would open itself to grave danger by lifting its three-year naval blockade of Gaza but did not oppose easing the embargo to allow more goods in through Israeli-controlled land crossings.

    Yuval Diskin, head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal security agency, also told parliament’s foreign affairs and defense committee that Gaza militants possess 5,000 rockets, Israel’s most specific estimate yet. Diskin’s testimony was reported by a meeting participant who spoke on condition of anonymity because the session was closed.’

    3. Also, trade-off – Israel to conduct its own flotilla inquiry in return for lifting aid restrictions.

    Britain, the US and France have agreed to allow Israel to mount its own investigation into the deaths of nine Turkish activists on board the Gaza aid flotilla in exchange for it lifting many of its restrictions on the passage of aid into the besieged territory, according to diplomatic sources.




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