(AFP) – Jul 1, 2010
PARIS — Israel will likely agree in the coming days to develop the range of supplies flowing into the blockaded Gaza strip, the special envoy for Middle East peace Tony Blair said on Thursday.
Former British prime minister Blair, who represents a diplomatic quartet of the EU, United States, UN and Russia, said he hopes Israel will finalise a list of products banned from Gaza when he visits the region in the next few days.
Blair has proposed to replace the current regime whereby Israel enforces a list specifying what products Gazans can import with a new list that only details banned products including certain building materials.
"I hope very strongly... that within the next few days we will be in a position where there is such a finalised list," Blair told a news conference after a meeting on aid to Palestinians at the French foreign ministry.
"Once that happens it should create a wholly different framework in which Gaza operates," he added.
Pressure on Israel over the impoverished territory, which is controlled by the armed movement Hamas, has risen since Israeli forces made a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.
The United States has been trying to get Palestinian and Israeli leaders to the negotiating table later this year for face-to-face peace talks, but the process is faltering on issues such as borders and security.
Alongside Blair on Thursday, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton said she hoped to "quickly and effectively" reach an agreement for European countries to help police Gaza's border.
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad said after attending the Paris meeting that the US-backed "indirect" talks had so far failed to lay the groundwork for direct peace negotiations.
"What's really important is to begin to see some progress" in those talks, he said.
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