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The blockade of Gaza “unsustainable” for the EU which proposes 1 solution (Update)

(BRUSSELS2, in Luxembourg – updated 17:30 p.m.) The 27 foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg this Monday (June 14) put a little more pressure on Israel to open the doors to Gaza. But they gave up on the idea of ​​an international investigation, leaving aside the Israeli investigation

If the adopted declaration (1) aims to be balanced condemning the rocket fire (coming from the Gaza Strip) and demanding the release of soldier Ghilad Shalit, its main objective remains, as well as Catherine Ashton, the EU's chief diplomat l 'underlined, in the columns of International Herald Tribune this morning – to highlight the “unbearable” side of the blockade undertaken by Israel against Gaza; an “unsustainable” blockade is mentioned more diplomatically in the declaration. As announced in our previous post, the 27 say they are ready to contribute to the implementation of a “ mechanism » based on the 2005 agreement to allow the reopening of border points.

A call for the blockade to be lifted. « The situation in Gaza remains unsustainable. The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive » underline the 27 (2). The EU promotes “ a fundamental and urgent change leading to a lasting solution in Gaza » and launches a call « an immediate, sustainable and unconditional opening of border points for the passage of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and people to and from Gaza, including goods from the West Bank ».

The service offering of the 27. The European Union underlines its availability “ based on the 2005 agreement to a mechanism allowing
« the reconstruction of Gaza and the revitalization of the economy ". " The objective » is to establish “a regular and full right of passage through land border points, and if possible by sea, based on a list of prohibited goods With " at the same time strict control over the destination of the imported goods ". The High Representative, Catherine Asthon thus receives the mandate “to initiate discussions with the government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the members of the Quartet and others”. The discussion will then continue at the next Foreign Affairs Council, in July, to present “ different options (also read: The 27 could propose
a mechanism for lifting the blockade of Gaza). 

The international investigation.

Measurement is required, more than necessary. The EU believes that an investigation “ immediate, impartial, complete” remain on events and circumstances is " essential ". But the international side of the investigation is no longer a condition. It is above all a measure of efficiency. “ To maintain the confidence of the international community, it should include credible international participation ". And that's all. In fact the Europeans accept what the Israelis proposed: the creation of a national commission of inquiry, with the participation of two international personalities: one British, Lord Trimble (former Protestant Prime Minister of Northern Ireland and Nobel Peace Prize 1998), the other Canadian, Ken Watkin, (former attorney general of the Canadian army). As B. Kouchner explained to a few journalists during an intersession of the Council: “ the aspect of the investigation is not abandoned. But if we want less pressure on Gaza, we must not mix things up. »

(update) Bernard Kouchner's comments: "From this crisis could emerge a
blockade relief

During an intersession of the Council, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bernard Kouchner, actually came out to give some comments on the discussions to journalists. « We want to relieve daily life in Gaza. You have to give them air. The current situation is not sustainable. The number of authorized trucks (2000) is not sufficient; 12.000 would be needed to supply Gaza. » And to add: " This crisis could lead to an easing of the blockade. The biggest success to be confirmed would be to arrive at a restrictive list of prohibited products..

It doesn't seem obvious. " It's not done yet. » he adds immediately. It requires "Israeli consent." But “There are positive signs” he is. " We are on the right path. We could have approval within the week. If this happens, we can say that the EU's participation will have been decisive. “And to detail:” Eubam is not yet accepted but discussed. But not the goods, we will have to work on it. As for access by sea, it is “for the moment unthinkable. And in any case the Gaza port – which has already been rebuilt once – is not suitable. » according to Bernard Kouchner. Concretely, “the crossing points would be directly administered by” Israelis and the Palestinian authority (as in the 2005 agreement).

The cautious optimism is shared by other delegations. Thus a diplomat from the Spanish presidency confided to me that Israel – put under American pressure – knows “that it must move”. But there is a delicate point to manage, he stressed: “ how to open borders without giving the impression that Hamas is winning ". And the opening of borders, even relative, will make a victim: “the tunnel business which currently supplies Gaza”.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) download the declaration of the 27

(2) " The situation in Gaza remains unsustainable. The continued policy of closure is unacceptable and politically counterproductive. The EU calls for an urgent and fundamental change of policy leading to a lasting solution to the situation in Gaza »

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).