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Serry calls for Israel to end siege on Gaza

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry yesterday called on Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian factions to adopt a "Gaza first" policy to ensure the continuation of the ceasefire.

Following a two-day visit to Gaza, Serry said: "I urgently call on all stakeholders, including… Palestinian factions, Israel, Egypt, the international community and donors, to change their failed policies and adopt a 'Gaza first' strategy."

He added: "I am convinced that there can be no peace without addressing Gaza's needs first."

In addition, he pointed out that the eight year siege on Gaza had made the area more isolated than ever due to the many restrictions still in place at Israeli crossings and with the closure of the Rafah crossing.

"We, in the UN, have always been in the forefront in calling for an end to the blockade as a prerequisite for a stable, functioning economy in Gaza. You also cannot have a stable, functioning economy without a more durable ceasefire and a recognised, legitimate and inclusive government leading Gaza's recovery," Serry said in a statement.

He reiterated that there could not be a "stable, functioning economy without a more durable ceasefire and a recognised, legitimate and inclusive government leading Gaza's recovery."

Serry, who is to end his term as UN peace envoy next month, said there was movement towards the reconstruction of Gaza, but that it was too slow.

"To date, over 72,000 people have been cleared to receive construction material… and around 55,000 have actually purchased material to rebuild their homes."

But "many of those who now have access to building material lack the money to buy them or to carry out the works."

He noted that only a small percentage of the $5.4 billion pledged at the Cairo Reconstruction Conference last October had been disbursed.

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