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Tony Blair welcomes new policy on Gaza

Following today's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Quartet Representative Tony Blair said:

"Three days ago Israel announced its intention to liberalise its Gaza Policy. We have now agreed principles of implementation. Israel has the right to protect its security and keep arms out of Gaza.

"The new policy allows for:

1) A change from a list of permitted items to those not permitted. Everything else is to be allowed into Gaza.

2) The Palestinian Authority and UN approved projects – schools, health facilities, housing, sanitation and water – will be enabled, with the construction materials necessary entering Gaza.

3) The crossings capacity will be increased to facilitate all of this and to allow the expansion of commercial activity and in time, security permitting, additional land crossings will be opened.

"The practical effect of this should change radically the flow of goods and material into Gaza.

"Plainly there are still issues to be addressed and the test of course will be not what is said, but what is done. But I welcome strongly this statement of policy and the Office of the Quartet Representative looks forward to working closely with the Government of Israel and other partners on its implementation.

"This new policy allows the Government of Israel and the Prime Minister to maintain their absolute determination to protect Israel’s security whilst improving significantly the lives of the people of Gaza.

"Once again, I repeat my demand that Gilad Shalit, now approaching four years in captivity, should be released immediately. We will re-double our efforts to secure his freedom.

"Over these coming months we therefore need: to improve life in Gaza; continue the growth in the West Bank and the PA development of its institutions for statehood; and ensure that the indirect talks, led by Senator Mitchell, turn into full direct negotiations."

Read the Government of Israel's new policy on Gaza here