Thu, January 22, 2009
World > Middle East > Israeli assault on Gaza

EU urges immediate open-up of crossings to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza

2009-01-22 00:14:34 GMT2009-01-22 08:14:34 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) on Wednesday night called on Israel to immediately open up the crossings to allow humanitarian aid and staff into the Gaza Strip to meet the urgent needs of the Palestinian population, and pledged to make all efforts to make the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas "sustainable" and "lasting."

At a press conference after a meeting between EU foreign ministers and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Czech ForeignMinister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said that the EU is seeking assurances that the ceasefire will maintain and that the EU calls on Israel to "permit immediate and sustained access for distribution of humanitarian aid."

The EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana stressed that the EU would make all efforts to help make the ceasefire "sustainable and lasting," and made an appeal to Israel to immediately open the crossing points so that the humanitarian aid and staff can cross into Gaza.

The meeting came as Israel completed its troop withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the day.

Livni said that the crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip are being opened. "According to our values, we are working with the international community and international organizations in order to help in answering the humanitarian needs in the Gaza Strip," she said.

She also demanded an immediate stop of smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, saying that "it is a shared goal with the international community to stop the smuggling of weapons being delivered by Iran to Hamas."

Before the meeting, Solana told reporters that the EU was ready to provide humanitarian aid under any circumstances and expressed the hope that there would be improvements in the inter-Palestinian situation that would facilitate the process of humanitarian help and reconstruction.

"I would like to say that the ceasefire is still fragile and every effort must be made to ensure that it is solid, durable and lasting," said Solana. "The European Union is committed to helping. It is committed politically, to maintaining, with all our means, the ceasefire."

He said that the situation in the Gaza Strip will not be stable until a final settlement is achieved. "All efforts have to be made in that direction. We, the EU, will spare no effort and I hope that the rest will do the same."

The EU foreign policy chief said the EU Rafah border mission is ready to return and it could be extended if that was agreed by the parties concerned.

After talks with Livni, the EU ministers will also meet Sunday with counterparts from Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian National Authority and Turkey to discuss the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.

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