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Updated: June 18, 2010 09:18 IST

Ban ‘encouraged’ by Israel’s decision to ease Gaza blockade

PTI
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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
AP United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is “encouraged” by the decision of the Israel to ease the Gaza blockade, which has been condemned by most of the international community for causing a humanitarian crisis for Palestinians and violating their human rights.

“The Secretary-General is encouraged that the Israeli Government is reviewing its policy towards Gaza, and he hopes that today’s decision by the Israeli Security Cabinet is a real step towards meeting needs in Gaza,” according to a statement issued by his spokesperson Martin Nesirky.

“The UN continues to seek a fundamental change in policy as agreed by the Quartet, so that humanitarian assistance, commercial goods and people are able to flow through functioning open crossings, and so that reconstruction can take place,” it added.

The Quartet is made up of the US, Russia, the European Union and the U.N.

Mr. Ban has asked his envoy, Robert Serry, to immediately engage the Israeli government to learn more about the decision and the additional measures and steps of implementation still required.

The pressure to ease the blockade increased after a raid by Israeli soldiers on an aid flotilla heading towards the Gaza strip on May 31 that led to the death of seven passengers.

A Security Council statement that was passed after the incident called for impartial investigations into the incident and lifting the Gaza blockade.

Under the partial lifting of the blockade, food and other domestic goods will now be allowed into Gaza as well as some construction material.

Despite the relaxation in policy, Israel, however, still maintains several restrictions on the passage of goods.

“The basic principle that should guide the policy on Gaza is clear. Everything should be allowed into Gaza, unless there is a specific and legitimate security reason,” Mr. Serry has told the Security Council.

“Israel should therefore move from the current policy - where only about 116 items are approved to enter Gaza - to a policy in which all goods and materials are able to enter Gaza unless there is a legitimate security rationale against it,” he added.

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