Mitchell urges Israel to open Gaza crossings

Mitchell has a daunting and probably impossible task at this juncture. Israel is continuing to choke off supplies of all sorts from Gaza. Israel continues to pound areas where there are tunnels in spite of the cease fire. This apparently is not supposed to be a violation of the cease fire. However if Hamas resumes firing rockets no doubt this would be a clear violation of the cease fire! Hamas is blamed even when another group fired one rocket!

Mitchell urges Israel to open Gaza crossings Fri, 30 Jan 2009 13:41:30 GMT

The 75-year-old former US senator says the Obama White House will strive to achieve peace in the Middle East.US Middle East envoy George Mitchell urges Israel to open the crossing points into the Gaza Strip amid a shaky ceasefire with Hamas. "To be successful in preventing the illegal trafficking of arms into the Gaza Strip, there must be a mechanism to allow the flow of legal goods," Mitchell, who is on his first Mideast tour, told reporters Thursday. Israel demands a halt in "smuggling arms" into the beleaguered strip as a major condition for a truce with Hamas. Despite a ceasefire having been in place since Tel Aviv's 23-day war on Gaza, Israeli warplanes have regularly targeted the Rafah border crossing to destroy "tunnels" that Tel Aviv contends are used to bring arms into the strip. The cross-border tunnels are often used by Palestinians, who have been under an Israeli siege since June 2007, to import food, medicines and other vital supplies. Mitchell said a steady flow of legal goods into the strip could bring about a lasting truce between Hamas and Tel Aviv. "It is important to consolidate a sustainable and durable ceasefire and encourage efforts in that regard," said Mitchell, who was appointed as the Middle East envoy by US President Barack Obama in the first days of his administration. According to the New York Times, Mitchell was appointed by the Clinton administration to lead an international commission and investigate the causes of violence in the Middle East. He released a report in the spring of 2001 that called for a freeze on Israeli settlement expansions in the West Bank. The former Senate majority leader has met with Israeli leaders as well as acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. He, however, has rejected meeting with Hamas officials. The Hamas movement is the democratically-elected ruler of the Gaza Strip. Washington does not recognize the Palestinian group and labels it as a "terrorist" organization. MD/AA


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