Egypt agrees to end Gaza siege 
Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem 
From: The Australian 
June 10, 2010 12:00AM 

US Vice-President Joe Biden and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak agreed at a 
meeting in Egypt yesterday that the siege of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt 
should be lifted in stages, according to senior Egyptian political sources. 

The two reportedly agreed European inspectors should be posted at the crossing 
points into the Gaza Strip to prevent the inflow of arms, while enabling an 
increased flow of civilian goods.

The proposals come amid a flurry of suggestions from Europe and Israel itself 
for easing conditions for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza. Last 
week's fatal Israeli interdiction of a Gaza-bound humanitarian convoy has 
aroused fears on all sides that similar or worse encounters might follow if the 
siege remains in place.

The Daily Telegraph in London reported yesterday that Israel has indicated 
willingness to ease its blockade in exchange for the UN dropping its call for 
an international investigation of the seaborne raid that led to the deaths of 
nine civilians, almost all Turkish. Israeli officials, expressing readiness to 
permit substantially more aid to flow into Gaza, deny any connection to the UN 
call. Israel plans to hold its own inquiry with the participation of foreign 
observers, a move welcomed by the US and other Western countries.

Israel has baulked at the shipment to Gaza of cement, iron and other building 
materials on the grounds that they could be used by Hamas to rebuild 
fortifications destroyed during Israel's incursion into the strip 17 months 
ago. Western countries say the materials are needed in order to rebuild 60,000 
homes destroyed or damaged in last year's fighting. Israel recently permitted 
in a small amount of building material for which UN officials in Gaza took 
responsibility. It has indicated readiness to increase the amount if 
international agencies guarantee it is used for civilian construction.

But Israel refuses to lift its naval blockade of Gaza until there are 
alternatives to ensure no rockets or other military supplies are brought in by 

One such proposal was made this week by a former head of Israel's National 
Security Council, retired Major General Giora Eiland. Israel could permit 
vessels to enter Gaza if a foreign country with which Israel has good relations 
- he mentioned Italy as an example - agrees to oversee loading of the cargo in 
one of its own ports to ensure there are no armaments. "You can't properly 
examine cargos at sea," he said.

Britain and France have echoed that proposal by suggesting an inspection point 
be created in Cyprus. France proposes warships from EU countries patrol the 
Gaza shoreline to intercept ships smuggling arms.

The diplomatic correspondent of Ha'aretz, Aluf Benn, proposed last month that 
Israel end Gaza's dependence on Israel as a channel for supplies. "The attempt 
to control Gaza from outside, via its residents diet and shopping lists, casts 
a heavy moral stain on Israel and increases its international isolation," he 
wrote. He proposed Israel abandon all responsibility for Gaza residents and 
seal the border. Gaza would then have to be supplied via Egypt or by sea.

Related Coverage
  a.. Israel to allow snacks in Gaza Herald Sun, 3 hours ago
  b.. Israel set to probe raid on aid flotilla The Australian, 1 day ago
  c.. Blockade will end when Hamas wants peace The Australian, 2 days ago
  d.. Tensions rise over Gaza flotilla raid The Australian, 5 days ago
  e.. Israel all at sea over Gaza The Australian, 8 days ago

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