Obama calls for new approach toward Gaza

Other News Materials 10 June 2010 01:07 (UTC +04:00)

US President Barack Obama on Wednesday called for a "new conceptual framework" to address the blockade on the Gaza Strip and said he expected a full investigation of the deadly Israeli raid last week on a flotilla that was trying to run the blockade, DPA reported.

The United States was in discussions with the Israelis about how to broaden the importing of food, goods and other humanitarian supplies and improving the Palestinian territory's economy without jeopardizing Israeli security.

"The question now is how do we create a different framework so that people in Gaza can thrive and succeed, so that extremists are isolated ... but also how do we do it in a way that Israel's legitimate security concerns are met," Obama said after meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Israel placed a blockade on the Gaza Strip to prevent arms smuggling after Hamas militants seized control of the territory, which is used to launch rocket attacks into Israel. But Obama said the continued plight in Gaza could fuel more extremism.

"The status quo that we have is one that is inherently unstable, and I think the Israelis have come to recognize that," Obama said.

The meeting with Abbas came one week after the Israelis stormed a Turkish flotilla en route to Gaza carrying humanitarian aide along with pro-Palestinian activists. Nine passengers were killed in the assault that sparked worldwide outrage. The Israelis say the soldiers opened fire after coming under attack by the passengers wielding knives and other weapons.

The United States backed a Security Council resolution calling for a clear investigation into the incident. Washington supports an Israeli-led investigation with some international participation.

"We should be able to take what has been a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually, directly improved," he said.

Obama said a system could be set up to ensure important goods can reach Gaza but also prevent weapons from going in.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelled a White House visit scheduled for last week to return home to deal with the flotilla situation.

Abbas and Obama also discussed the peace process and the effort to build on indirect talks between the two sides mediated by the United States.

"We are working in order to make progress," Abbas said.