EU urges Israel to reconsider Gaza "enemy" status

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BRUSSELS, Sep 20 (Reuters) The European Union joined today a UN call for Israel to reconsider its move to declare the Gaza Strip an ''enemy entity'' and appealed for it not to cut key services to the Hamas-run territory.

Israel announced the move yesterday as a response to rocket attacks by Palestinian militants and said limits would be placed on fuel and power supplies after its authorities had studied the legal and humanitarian consequences.

''Our first reaction is one of deep preoccupation ... We think the Gaza people should not be deprived of basic necessities,'' EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

''We join the call by the Secretary-General of the United Nations for the Israel government to reconsider its decision,'' he added in a statement issued through his spokeswoman.

The European Commission, which helped coordinate emergency aid to Palestinians after militant Islamist Hamas' election victory prompted the West to suspend direct aid to the territories, also urged Israel to reconsider.

''The Commission hopes that Israel will not find it necessary to implement the measures for which the decisions set the framework yesterday,'' a spokeswoman for the EU executive said.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June after fighting the forces of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who controls the West Bank after dismissing the Hamas-led government.

A UN official warned Israel yesterday that any move to cut off essential supplies to Gaza would be against international humanitarian law. Visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters during a visit to Jerusalem that the United States ''would not abandon innocent Palestinians''.

REUTERS SKB PM1720

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