Blair to Israel: End the blockade

Blair to Israel: End the blockade
Blair to Israel: End the blockade

By staff

Former prime minister Tony Blair has called on Israel to end its economic blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The special envoy to the Middle East made the comments after his first visit to Gaza, where he called for a new strategy in the region.

"I think there is a recognition that we have got to change our strategy towards Gaza," he said.

Mr Blair then attended today's conference in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Palestinian Authority asked for $2.8 billion (£2 billion) for reconstruction.

Hillary Clinton was also attending the conference, in her first trip to the region as secretary of state.

The US is contributing $900 million (£638 million) but only under certain conditions.

As she left the conference, Ms Clinton said: "I will be announcing a commitment to a significant aid package - but it will only be spent if we determine that our goals can be furthered rather than undermined or subverted."

Over 1,300 Palestinians were killed when Israeli forces launched an attack on the Gaza Strip over the Christmas period in an effort to stop rocket attacks aimed at Israeli towns.

"I don't think anybody can come here and not be appalled by what is happening," Blair said during his visit.

Douglas Alexander, international development secretary echoed that message while promising an extra £30 million in aid for Palestinians.

"We want to see full and unfettered access both for aid and for aid workers here in Gaza," he said. "The scale of human suffering remains far too high."

But neither of the men met any representatives from Hamas, which governs Gaza.


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