EU ambassadors harden criticism of Israeli flotilla attack
The European Union hardened its condemnation of Israel's deadly attack against a flotilla trying to access the Gaza Strip with a load of humanitarian aid, after the bloc's top diplomats held an emergency meeting in Brussels on Monday, dpa reported.
The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, had already expressed deep regret for the loss of life and called for "a full and immediate inquiry by the Israeli authorities."
In addition, ambassadors to the EU's Political and Security Committee (PSC), dealing with defence and foreign affairs issues, approved a further declaration in which Ashton "condemns the use of violence that has produced a high number of victims."
The EU's representative recognized that the action took place in international waters and said it did "not accept (Israel's) continued policy" of blockading the Gaza Strip.
Israel was urged "to urgently provide" consular access to EU citizens that were on board the flotilla and have been since been held for questioning by Israeli authorities.
The EU also warned against "a further escalation of tensions" and stressed the need to continue the indirect peace talks the United States are holding between the Israeli and the Palestinians.
Some nine people died, many of them Turks, when Israeli commandoes boarded the six-vessel flotilla carrying relief supplies to Gaza.