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UN chief encouraged by Israel's decision to ease Gaza blockade

06-18-2010 16:57 BJT

UNITED NATIONS, June 17 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon said on Thursday he hopes Israel's announcement that it will ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip to allow more civilian goods to enter the territory will lead to an improvement in the lives of the 1.5 million Palestinians living there.

"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," Ban's spokesperson said in a statement.

Ban has asked Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to immediately engage the Israeli government to learn more about the decision and the additional measures needed to implement it.

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 reconstruction can take place, said the statement.

It added that the world body stands ready to scale up its efforts to help Gaza recover and rebuild if enabled to do so.

Ministers of the Israeli security cabinet on Thursday reached agreement after days of debate on a proposal to ease the blockade on the Gaza Strip, expanding the range of goods that could enter Gaza.

The UN chief has repeatedly called for ending the blockade, which Israel imposed on Gaza for what it called security reasons after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel's right to exist, ousted the Fatah movement in the Strip in 2007.

He did so most recently in the wake of the May 31 incident in which Israel raided a six-ship convoy that was carrying humanitarian goods and activists and heading for Gaza. The operation resulted in the deaths of nine civilians and the wounding of at least 30 others, and prompted renewed calls for Israel to end the blockade.

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: Xinhua

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