Quartet: Palestinians should oversee Gaza crossings

Tony Blair visited the Kerem Shalom crossing

Tony Blair visited the Kerem Shalom crossing

The Middle East Quartet peace mediators have called for Palestinian security personnel to operate the crossings from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

In a statement, the organisation said there should be a Palestinian Authority (PA) presence at the border as a way of reuniting the area with the West Bank and placing pressure on Hamas.

Following Israel’s move to ease the land blockade by allowing most civilian goods into Gaza, the Quartet, made up of representatives from the United States, Russia, the EU and the UN, said they are exploring “additional ways” to improve conditions.

They said they will “encourage involvement of the PA at the crossings and promote greater commerce between the West Bank and Gaza" in order to bring Gaza under “the legitimate Palestinian Authority”.

The Gaza Strip has been under the control of Hamas since 2007.

The Quartet praised plans to alleviate the blockade, describing it as “a significant shift in strategy” which would go towards meeting the needs of both Israel and Gaza.

Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister and envoy to the Middle East Quartet has visited the Kerem Shalom crossing for a security briefing in the wake of the decision.

Speaking ahead of the fourth anniversary of the capture of Gilad Shalit, Mr Blair called on Hamas to release the Israeli soldier without preconditions.

Last updated: 2:14pm, June 22 2010