Gaza Blockade Won't End With Turkey Apology and Ties, Israel Insists

Hamas Hopeful That Israel Will Ease Curbs on Trade

By Reuters

Published March 24, 2013.
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Israel did not commit to ending its Gaza blockade as part of reconciliation with Turkey and could clamp down even harder on the Palestinian enclave if security is threatened, a senior Israeli official said on Sunday.

After Friday’s U.S.-brokered fence-mending announcement, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Israel had met his demands it apologise for killing nine Turks aboard a Gaza-bound activist ship in 2010, pay compensation and ease the blockade.

But during the almost three-year rift between the ex-allies, Erdogan had routinely insisted that Israel end the blockade.

The rapprochement deal noted Israel’s relaxing of curbs on Gaza’s civilian imports in that period and pledged “to continue to work to improve” Palestinians’ humanitarian situation.

“If there is quiet, the processes easing the lives of Gazan residents will continue. And if there is Katyusha (rocket) fire, then these moves will be slowed and even stopped and, if necessary, even reversed,” Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said.

“We did not agree to promise (Turkey) that under any condition we would continue to transfer all the things into Gaza and ease up on the residents of Gaza if there is shooting from there,” he told Israel’s Army Radio.

“We do not intend to give up on our right to respond to what happens in Gaza because of the agreement with the Turks.”

But Amidror noted the reconciliation held benefits for Israel, such as helping it deal with spillover from civil war in Syria and pursue other regional interests, including cooperation with NATO, which alliance partner Ankara had sought to block.

On Thursday, Islamist militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel during a visit by U.S President Barack Obama, causing no casualties. Israel responded by closing a commercial crossing with Gaza and slashing Palestinian access to fishing waters.


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