Israel seeks to keep out of Gaza weapons and war-supporting materiel that Hamas uses to prepare and carry out terror and rocket attacks against Israel and its civilians. All other goods will be allowed into Gaza.

 Remarks by PM Netanyahu and Tony Blair, Quartet Envoy to the Middle East

 

Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Quartet Representative Tony Blair in Jerusalem (Photo: GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: Tony, it’s a pleasure to meet you once again in Jerusalem.

Our government’s policy towards Gaza is clear. Israel seeks to keep out of Gaza weapons and war-supporting materiel that Hamas uses to prepare and carry out terror and rocket attacks against Israel and its civilians. All other goods will be allowed into Gaza. Gilad Shalit is now approaching four years in captivity. The international community should join Israel in strongly condemning Hamas for holding him captive. Now is the time for all of us, Israel and the international community, to redouble our efforts to secure Gilad Shalit’s immediate release.

Tony, let me take this opportunity once again to thank you for your statesmanship and for your friendship.

Quartet Envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair: Three days ago, Israel announced its intention to liberalize its Gaza policy.  We have now agreed principles of implementation. Let me state right at the outset that Israel has the complete right to protect its security and to keep arms out of Gaza. The new policy allows for first- a change from a list of permitted items to those not permitted. Everything else as the Prime Minister has just indicated is to be allowed into Gaza. 

Second, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations’ approved project – schools, health facilities, housing, sanitation and water – will be enabled with the construction materials necessary entering Gaza.

And third, the crossing’s capacity will be increased to facilitate all of this and to allow the expansion of commercial activity, and in time, security permitting, additional crossings will be opened. The practical effect of this should change radically the flow of goods and material into Gaza.

Plainly, there are still issues to be addressed and the test of course will not be what is said but what is done. But I welcome strongly this statement of policy and the Office of the Quartet Representative looks forward to working closely with the Government of Israel and other partners on its implementation. This new policy allows the Government of Israel and the Prime Minister to maintain their absolute determination to protect Israel’s security whilst improving significantly the lives of people in Gaza.

Once again, let me repeat my demand that Gilad Shalit, now approaching four years in captivity, should be released immediately. We will redouble our efforts to secure his freedom. Over these coming months therefore, we need to improve life in Gaza, to continue the growth in the West Bank and the Palestinian development of its’ institutions for statehood and to ensure that the indirect talks now led by Senator Mitchell turn into full and direct negotiations. Thank you.

Prime Minister Netanyahu: Thank you very much. That’s great.