Ashton calls on Israel to reopen Gaza crossings, rebuffs Lieberman's plan

08:03, July 19, 2010      

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Visiting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Sunday called for reopening the border crossings of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, while she rebuffed the plan of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to pass on Gaza responsibility.

"The living conditions and the economic situation haven't changed so much and what is needed is to completely reopen the crossing points of Gaza to enable the population to run their business and their factories and rebuild their life and the future of their children," Ashton told a news briefing in Gaza City.

Ashton crossed into Gaza via Erez crossing point, where she visited factories destroyed during the last Israeli war on Gaza, a UN Relief and Working Agency (UNRWA) school and a Gaza deaf children center. She announced that the EU will increase its support to private sector.

It is Ashton's second visit to the Gaza Strip within three months. She announced that she will visit Gaza again in a few months to make sure that the living condition of the population has improved.

She said the EU is pressuring for reopening all Gaza Strip crossings and easing the hard living conditions.

Israel has been imposing a tight blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip since Gaza militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid in June 2006.

Israel and Egypt sealed off their borders with Gaza in June 2007 when Islamic Hamas movement took over Gaza from security forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Source: Xinhua&


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