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Gaza: EU Not Happy

  • July 19th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

gaza-memrieconomicblogorg.jpegWidespread commentary has followed the visit to Gaza by the chief EU envoy on joint foreign policy, the High Representative, Catherine Ashton – especially over her demand that Israel’s relaxation of its blockade is not enough.

The Al Jazeera news service stressed her words, supporting a much greater change than the recent lifting of most restrictions on goods to be brought into the territory.

“The position of the European Union is very clear.

“We want to see the opportunity for people to be able to move freely, to see goods not only coming in to Gaza but exports coming out”, she said.

The High Representative underlined the point by visiting a pharmaceuticals factory and a building firm in Gaza which have received EU financial assistance.

After seeing the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, she said she’d made it plain the European Union was opposed to an idea for Israel to cut all ties with Gaza, leaving it to the international community to sustain it as a separate entity.

It’s an awkward point that the  EU withholds recognition from the Hamas administration in Gaza, because of its armed seizure of power there in 2007, and the High representative had no meetings with its officials.

The earlier success of Hamas at elections in the territory confers it some legitimacy, though yet to be reaffirmed in fresh, free elections, and still  denied by Israel because of terrorist attacks on its territory from Gaza.

Baroness Ashton this time said that European observers would assist in policing re-opened trade in and out of Gaza, on condition that it be in collaboration with the Palestinian Authority, based on the West bank – not with Hamas.

In Cairo, Egyptian officials were reportedly opposed to the plan being floated, to cut off Gaza as a separate entity, arguing it would amount to loading full responsibility for sustaining the enclave onto their government.

Al Jazeera cited a resolution by the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN, the South-east Asian nations, supporting free ans full access to Gaza – calling it part of a “growing chorus”.

Catherine Ashton’s visit to the region  (16-18.7.10) was the first by a highest-level diplomatic representative since the easing of restrictions on trade into Gaza by Israel, and her second there in six months.

The United States peace envoy, George Mitchell, was visiting at the same time, continuing with efforts to organise negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.


Al Jazeera, Doha, “EU calls for opening Gaza borders”, 18.7.10., (19.7.10).

Mark Weiss, Jerusalem, Irish Times, “Israeli plan to cut Gaza ties fails to convince EU”, (19.7.10)., (19.7.10).

Isabel Kershner and Fares Akram, “Senior EU emissary visits Gaza”, New York Times, NY, 18.7.10., (19.7.10).

BBC News, London, “EU envoy urges Israel to open Gaza borders”, 18.7.10., (19.7.10).