The UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Palestinian Territories has recommended a threat of economic sanctions against Israel if it does not end its blockade of Gaza that has lasted for more than two years.

“Obviously Israel does not respond to language of diplomacy, which has encouraged the lifting of the blockade, and so what I am suggesting is that it has to be reinforced by a threat of adverse economic consequences for Israel,” Richard Falk told UN radio.

“That probably is something that is politically unlikely to happen, but unless it happens, it really does suggest that the United States and the Quartet and the EU don’t take these calls for lifting the blockade very seriously and are unaffected by Israel’s continuing defiance of those calls,” he added.

On the anniversary of the Israeli siege of the Gaza strip, UN Chief Ban Ki—moon had said the continuing blockade of borders by Israeli authorities was violating the basic human rights of Palestinians.

“The quality and quantity of humanitarian supplies entering Gaza is insufficient, broader economic and reconstruction activity is paralysed, and the people of Gaza are denied basic human rights,” he said.

Israeli forces had engaged in a military assault called “Operation Cast Lead” on Gaza that lasted from December 27, 2008 to January 21, 2009, and killed 1,400 Palestinians as well as 13 Israelis, and which have consequently led to accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Expressing concern at the wall being built between Gaza and Egypt to interfere with the underground network of tunnels used by Palestinians to transport goods, the Special Rapporteur said that its construction pointed towards “complicity” on the part of Cairo and Washington in Israel’s actions.

“I’m very distressed by that, because it is both an expression of complicity on the part of the government of Egypt and the United States, which apparently is assisting through its corps of engineers with the construction of this underground steel impenetrable wall that’s designed to interfere with the tunnels that have been bringing some food and material relief to the Gaza population,” Falk said.

The UN expert said that “rumours of an imminent prisoner exchange” was the “only positive indication” that in 2010 “there might be a corresponding easing if not lifting of the blockade.”

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