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EU Ministers Propose Plan for Ending Gaza Blockade

A group of European Union foreign ministers have proposed a new plan for ending the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain proposed having EU monitoring teams in Cyprus inspect Gaza-bound cargo to prevent weapons and other banned items from entering the Palestinian territory.

They made the proposal in an opinion piece published Friday in the International Herald Tribune and other newspapers,

The ministers also said Israel's three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip created the conditions that led to the deadly raid by Israeli forces on an aid flotilla last month.

Israel put the blockade in place after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 to prevent Palestinian militants from obtaining weapons.

EU foreign ministers plan to discuss the Gaza situation at a meeting Monday.

The Italian, French and Spanish foreign ministers said an effort to lift the blockade on Gaza must include guarantees that it will not facilitate an influx of terrorist groups or arms trafficking.

Israel drew international criticism after its soldiers killed nine pro-Palestinian activists who were part of a flotilla that was trying to break the blockade and deliver aid directly to Gaza.

Israel has defended its actions in the raid, saying its troops acted in self defense.

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