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Catherine Ashton visits Gaza tomorrow. Thierry Charlier/AP
Gaza Blockade

EU pressure could have Israel lift aid blockade

The EU’s foreign minister will hear plans to end the blockade on the Palestinian region.

THE EU’S FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF will travel to Gaza this week to hear proposals from Israel on how to end Gaza’s dependence on it and how to lift its aid blockade.

Catherine Ashton visits Gaza tomorrow intent on convincing Israel to lift the blockade, but will likely hear proposals from Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman on how the state plans to end it itself.

The move follows last month’s declaration by Israel that it would ease its blockade on the region, by replacing the current system where only certain items are allowed entry with one which instead bars a smaller number of items.

But Israel’s proposals – which were leaked by a leading Israeli daily – go further than this and essentially allow Gaza to become an independent entity, ending years of international pressure at Israel’s presence in the region.

Lieberman’s plans would involve Israel sealing off its borders with region and ceasing its naval inspections on aid vessels, such as that which led to the raid on the Freedom Flotilla in May.

Crucially, however, they would also involve the international community being asked to help in the construction of new homes in the region and European military assistance to help secure the border.

The plans have meet with resistance from the Palestinian governing party Hamas, which sees the plan as a ruse to separate Gaza from the other major Palestinian settlement of the West Bank.

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