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A Hamas spokesman praised on Friday a decision by European Union lawmakers in Strasbourg, France on Thursday calling on Israel to end the blockade and open Gaza's border crossings.

"We in Hamas are highly appreciative of the initiative and the call made by the EU parliament to end the siege imposed on Gaza," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "We consider this an important development in the European attitude."

Zuhri also said that Hamas will not rule out any initiative to put an end to its armed conflict with Israel, Army Radio reported.

The European Parliament, which has no executive powers, said in an adopted resolution that "the policy of isolation of the Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level."

"The civilian population should be exempt from any military action and any collective punishment," it added.

Israeli air strikes and ground incursions into the Gaza Strip have killed some 300 Palestinians in the past year, including dozens of civilians, but have failed to prevent rocket fire, which killed two Israelis in the same period.

"The European Parliament calls on Israel to cease military actions killing and endangering civilians, and extrajudicial targeted killings," the resolution said.

The lawmakers also urged the Gaza Strip's rulers Hamas to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel.

They called on the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, to launch a dialogue with Hamas, which is on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.

Israel rejected the EU call on Friday.

"As far as we're concerned the ball is in the hands of the Palestinians and in the hands of Hamas," Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said. "If they stop the rocket fire at Israeli towns we will stop our steps, which are meant to halt the daily rocket fire."

Olmert is set to meet with during a visit there next week, and talks will center on American concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the daily Haaretz reported Friday.

Regev, Olmert's spokesman, would say only that the visits to Japan by Rice and Olmert will overlap and that it is possible the two could meet.