On a visit to Gaza over the weekend, former EU commissioner, Chris Patten, has called for an end to the blockade of the Strip and for a reassessment of the ‘ridiculous’ policy of isolating Hamas.
At a press conference in the territory on Monday, he called for channels of dialogue with Hamas to be re-opened and stated that the siege of Gaza did not result in a moderate position but in an increase of tensions.
Patten called for the necessity of ending the illegal Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and pressed hard for an end the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the application of UN Resolution 1860. His visit coincides with the second visit of the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Affairs in the European Union, Catherine Ashton, to Gaza who also called on Israel not just to allow more goods into the sector but to fully open Gaza’s borders.
Patten said that as the biggest supporter of the Palestinian people and Israel’s largest economic partner, the EU should play a greater role in the Middle East.
He stated that many of the health problems suffered by residents of the sector were caused by the embargo, which prohibits the entry of medical supplies and prevents patients with certain conditions from travelling to receive medical treatment. Patten visited the director of operations for UNRWA in Gaza, John Ging, as well as several medical sector projects and was briefed on health conditions in the sector.
This is Patten’s third visit to Gaza.
MEMO Photographer: Mohammed Asad