The Middle East Quartet, made up of the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States, has welcomed Israel's move to ease the land blockade of Gaza by allowing civilian goods into the territory. In its written statement, the Quartet reaffirmed that the current situation in Gaza, including the humanitarian and human rights situation of the civilian population, is unsustainable and not in the interest of any of those concerned.
The solution, said the Quartet, is one that addresses Israel's legitimate security concerns, including an end to weapons smuggling into Gaza, and promotes Palestinian unity based on the Palestinian Liberation Organization commitments and reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority. The solution must ensure the unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods, and persons to and from Gaza consistent with United Nations Resolution 1860. The Quartet is prepared to work with Israel and the Palestinian Authority to achieve sustainable development in Gaza.
The Quartet recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded. Since the terrorist group Hamas violently seized power in Gaza three years ago, it has fired thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel imposed the blockade in an effort to prevent Hamas from re-building its arsenal. The Quartet has committed itself to working with Israel to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza. It urges all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. "There is no need for unnecessary confrontations," the Quartet statement said.
The Quartet also called for an immediate end to the deplorable detention of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It further condemns the violation of Hamas' international obligation to provide him access by the International Committee of the Red Cross and demands that Hamas immediately release him.
The ultimate goal is for direct bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume and to resolve all final status issues. These negotiations should lead to a settlement, within twenty-four months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.