'Israel Seeks Global Support to Improve Flow of Goods to Gaza'

Netanyahu and Tony Blair meet in Jerusalem for talks on increasing flow civilian goods and combating weapons smuggling to Gaza.

Reuters
Barak Ravid
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Reuters
Barak Ravid

Israel is seeking global support to improve the flow of civilian goods and prevent weapons smuggling to the blockaded Gaza Strip, the government said on Friday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Middle East Quartet Envoy Tony Blair on June 08, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel.Credit: GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure to ease Israel's three-year siege since a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship two weeks ago, held talks on the issue with Tony Blair, Middle East envoy for the 'Quartet' of the European Union, United Nations, United States and Russia.

"The aim of the meeting was to recruit international support behind the principle that weapons and military supportive material will not reach Gaza or Hamas, while humanitarian and civilian goods may reach the area and its residents via additional means," Netanyahu's office said in a statement.

Israeli naval commandos on May 31shot dead nine Turkish activists who assaulted them with knives and clubs as they boarded the Turkish-owned ship 'Mavi Marama' to prevent it from breaching a maritime blockade of Gaza.

On Wednesday Israel eased restrictions on goods to Gaza this week by announcing it would admit additional items such as snack foods and carbonated drinks via Israeli-controlled crossings.

The announcnement came as U.S. President Barack Obama and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held talks in Washington on the Gaza embargo, a focus of world attention since Israel's mid-ocean raid.

Aid groups have warned of a looming humanitarian disaster in Gaza, home to some1.5 million Palestinians, as a result of Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on imports.

Israel says its embargo on the Strip, imposed after Hamas siezed power in a bloody coup in 2007, is aimed at preventing weapons from reaching the Iranian-backed Islamists, who have refused peace initiatives with Israel.

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