Ma'an News Agency
June 22, 2010 - 12:00am

The human rights situation of the civilian population of Gaza is "unsustainable, unacceptable, and not in the interests of any of those concerned," the Quartet said Tuesday.

The Quartet, made up of the US, EU, Russia, and the UN, emphasized the need for "a fundamental change in policy in Gaza," demanding the "unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza."

The statement came despite a decision from the Israeli security cabinet to change the conditions of the siege on Sunday, a move that was welcomed by Quartet envoy Tony Blair.

The Quartet stressed the need for the UN and local non-governmental organizations "to be expanded in Gaza to meet urgent civilian needs."

In an apparent reference to the recent wave of ships attempting to deliver aid to Gaza's port, the Quartet urged all those wishing to deliver goods to do so "through established channels." Nine activists were shot dead by Israeli forces in an attack on the Turkish aid ship, the Mevi Marmara, last month.

Comprehensive details of the new policy have yet to be released, but Israel has said a greater volume of goods will be permitted through the crossings. Israel has also announced that it will publish a list of items banned from Gaza.

The Quartet noted that the effectiveness of the new siege policy is dependent on "the elaboration of further details and modalities of implementation."

The Quartet also stressed the need for the "reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority," stating that it will explore ways to encourage the involvement of the PA at the crossings and "promote greater commerce between the West Bank and Gaza."

At the same time, the Quartet reiterated the need to safeguard Israel's "legitimate security concerns" and said it would work with the international community to prevent the trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza. The Quartet further demanded the immediate release of soldier Gilad Shalit, detained by Hamas since June 2007.


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