The Middle East Quartet on Saturday “strongly urged” the peace activists on Freedom flotilla II, docked in a Greece sea port, not to sail to Gaza in an attempt to break the blockade on the Strip, because various goods are going through by land anyway and there is no need to endanger their lives, recalling what happened in May last year when nine Turkish activists died on Freedom flotilla I tried to do the same thing.
“The Quartet strongly urges all those wishing to deliver goods to the people of Gaza to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via established land crossings,” The Quartet – UN, US, EU and Russia, said in a statement issued.
The Quartet “regrets the injury and deaths caused by the 2010 flotilla, urges restraint and calls on all Governments concerned to use their influence to discourage additional flotillas, which risk the safety of their participants and carry the potential for escalation,” the statement added.
The Quartet also recognized at the same time that Israel has “legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded.” The statement said the Quartet “remains concerned about the unsustainable conditions facing the civilian population in Gaza but notes that efforts have improved conditions over the last year,” including a marked increase in the range and scope of goods and materials moving into Gaza, an increase in international project activity, and the facilitation of some exports.
In that regard, the Quartet “commended the recent approval by Israel of materials” for new homes and schools to be constructed by UNRWA, but noted that “considerably more needs to be done to increase the flow of people and goods” to and from Gaza, including a liberalization of the market in steel bars and cement.
The Quartet members “continue to urge full implementation of Israels June 2010 policy decision and further meaningful steps to improve the situation in Gaza consistent with Security Council resolution 1860 of 2009.
They vowed to work, including through UN and Quartet envoy Tony Blair, with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, donors and the international community to ensure that the needs of the people of Gaza are being met.
Quartet members said they are committed to working with Israel, Egypt and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza and “believe efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical.” The Quartet members did not miss this opportunity to “call for an end to the deplorable five-year detention of Gilad Shalit.”