Tánaiste renews Gaza blockade call


Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore has again called on Israel to change its policy in relation to Gaza and end its blockade of the territory.

Mr Gilmore was speaking at the start of a four-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories

During his visit, Mr Gilmore will meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and foreign minister Riad Malki.

He will also hold talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, deputy prime minister Dan Meridor and foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.

The Tánaiste began his visit in Gaza today where he toured a number of UN-operated schools and projects. He also met a number of non-governmental organisations dealing with human rights issues as well as local business people to discuss the continuing impact of the Israeli blockade on the economy.

Speaking this afternoon, Mr Gilmore said it was dispiriting to see how little change there had been in Gaza since the end of the Israeli military operation there three years ago. “What I have seen today has reinforced my belief that it is utterly unjust as well as counterproductive to subject Gaza to these restrictions, to choke off its economy, and to reduce its people to a state of complete dependency.”

Mr Gilmore said he would be raising the situation in Gaza with Israeli government representatives in the coming days and reiterating the need to end the blockade and make progress towards a comprehensive peace agreement.

"This ultimately offers the most effective means of addressing the serious problems and inequities which the people of Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories currently face," he said.