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European Parliament Urges Israel to Lift 'Failed' Blockade of Gaza


The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging Israel to lift its blockade of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The resolution adopted Thursday says Israel's policy of isolating Gaza has "failed" and calls for a "controlled re-opening" of crossings in and out of the territory.

Israel closed its border crossings with Gaza after Hamas militants took control of the territory last June. In recent weeks, Israel began restricting fuel and electricity deliveries to Gaza to try to pressure residents to stop militants firing rockets at Israeli towns.

Gaza is home to 1.5 million Palestinians who depend heavily on outside aid.

The European Parliament resolution says Gaza's population should be exempt from what it calls "collective punishment" by Israel.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said today that any talk of ending Israel's sanctions on Gaza will weaken Palestinian leaders who are interested in peace.

Israel has relaunched peace talks with the West Bank government of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, while shunning Hamas, which refuses to recognize the Jewish state.

Today's European Parliament resolution urges Israel to end extrajudicial killings of Palestinian militants and stop military actions that kill and endanger civilians. It also calls on Hamas to prevent rocket attacks on Israel.

The European Union considers Hamas to be a terrorist organization.

In another development, an EU official, Colin Smith tells the Reuters news agency that Mr. Abbas' government needs another $221 million in aid to train its police force and expand its prisons.

EU experts are training Palestinian police in the West Bank to help them improve security and crack down on militants.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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