Blair on Gaza goods 'blacklist'

Quartet envoy tells Al Jazeera that Israel's blockade easing "is big change if implemented".

    Israel has eased restrictions on the import of consumer goods to the Gaza Strip, relaxing its blockade on the Palestinian territory.

    Instead of listing items allowed into the coastal enclave, Israel has now created a blacklist, which lets in all items except "weapons, war material and dual-use items".

    However, the term "dual-use" holds an ambiguity that threatens the possibility of allowing in crucial construction material like iron and steel.

    This has led to much concern over the prospect of rebuilding Gaza's infrastructure that underwent widespread destruction as a result of Israel's military offensive last year. 

    In an exclusive interview to Al Jazeera, Tony Blair, the special Middle East envoy of the international Quartet comprising the US, Russia, EU and the UN, said that the announcement was a step forward in efforts to rebuild Gaza.

    Speaking from Kuwait City on Monday, Blair said: "Household items, foodstuffs, bulk materials like textiles and so on go in.

    "For some construction materials like cement and so on, these will go in, but under a procedure agreed with the international community.

    "This is a big change if it is implemented, and we have to make sure it is.

    "If we want to get a final lifting of all the restrictions, we have to get renewed montentum back into the peace process and unity between Gaza and the West Bank. This is absolutely essential."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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