EU to call on Israel to re-open Gaza, consider monitors
The European Union will Wednesday pile pressure on visiting Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni to re-open Gaza, so that humanitarian aid can reach Palestinians in need, said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.
"It is very important that Gaza is opened. And that means opening the crossings, so that the help which the international community is willing to give can arrive to those in need," Solana said ahead of a dinner-time meeting in Brussels between Livni and EU foreign ministers, reported dpa.
"The ceasefire is still fragile, and all efforts need to be made to ensure that it is solid, durable and sustainable," Solana said.
The EU's top diplomat said the 27-member bloc was willing to do "whatever necessary" to ensure that the ceasefire is maintained, including sending monitors to a number of border crossings in the Gaza Strip.
The EU maintained a small monitoring team at the Rafah crossing between 2005 and 2007, when it was withdrawn after Hamas' election to power in the Gaza Strip. For a European presence to be renewed or extended, it would again have to overcome resistance from Hamas.
"We have said we are ready to return to Rafah and even to extend (the monitoring mission), if that is agreed by the parties," Solana said.
"We are willing to do whatever is necessary in that direction, with monitors in Rafah and in other places," he said.
The aim of Wednesday's meeting with Livni is to look for ways to reinforce the fragile ceasefire, coordinate the EU's assistance efforts and revive the stalled Middle East peace process.
EU foreign ministers are to hold a separate talks on Sunday with representatives and top officials from Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.
Solana said that while the bloc was committed to help, both politically and economically, it was also important that Palestinians restore their unity.
Asked whether the time had come for a Middle East peace conference to be held, Solana said: "This is not the moment to have summits."
"Israel is facing an electoral campaign, so we should wait until the electoral process is over," he said. dpa nr ds