Israel Tepid on EU Monitoring Force

While the Palestinian Hamas movement has welcomed a proposal for an international monitoring team at the Gaza-Israel border, Tel Aviv seems all the more reluctant.

The European Union (EU) proposed to check Gaza-bound ships following a May 31 deadly attack on an aid convoy by Israeli naval commandoes.

The proposal Brussels floated last week — to help prevent the reoccurrence of such tragedies — also includes monitoring the shipment of goods from Egypt into the Hamas-run territory via the Rafah border crossing.

But Israel’s response to the EU proposal is "rather negative," AFP quoted French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as saying at the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal on Wednesday.

Earlier in the week, Hamas said the Islamic movement "welcomes this proposal in all its aspects." It also insisted that "Israel should not obstruct any convoys or ships coming to the Gaza port."

The proposed plan reportedly includes the activation of the EU monitoring committee at Rafah and developing similar initiatives at least three other crossings. The force would also assist in sea patrols so that the Gaza port could open.

Providing more details on the plan, Kouchner said the checks could take place in Cyprus, which, unlike Gaza, has a deepwater port. Cargo could also be unloaded in the Israeli port of Ashdod.

"This would simplify the checks," he added, but admitted that the plan "is not a success for now."

The French minister said there would be a list of banned products under the new proposal, but it would not impose an extensive embargo on merchandise delivered to the Palestinians.

Years of a paralyzing Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip has pushed the 1.5 million Palestinians residing in the coastal enclave on the verge of a humanitarian crisis, while half of its population heavily depends on the United Nations food aid handouts.

Despite mounting international calls to put an end to the "collective punishment" against Palestinians Israel still keeps Gaza crossings sealed to impair and eventually overthrow the democratically elected Hamas government in the Palestinian strip.

(Press TV)

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