Israel to lift Gaza siege only after Hamas 'neutralised'

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Israel to lift Gaza siege after Hamas 'neutralised'
Jerusalem, Oct 14: Israel would lift the eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip only after the Islamist group of Hamas is "neutralised", President Reuven Rivlin has told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"The blockade can be lifted only after the Palestinian leadership and the international community will find a way to neutralize the terror capabilities of Hamas," Xinhua quoted Rivlin as telling the UN chief.

Ban said a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is "the only way to guarantee the Palestinian's rights and the security of Israel".

Ban arrived in Jerusalem Monday after a Cairo meeting of international donors Sunday pledged to contribute 5.4 billion dollars for the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip. He " urged" leaders on both sides "to find a way to peace" and a quick resolution for the "pressing issues of Gaza's reconstruction".

At a joint press conference with Ban, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the cause of this summer's outburst of violence "was Hamas' rocketing of Israeli cities, and these rocket attacks often exploited UN neutrality, using UN facilities and UN schools as part of the Hamas machine of terror."

Ban condemned the ongoing Israeli settlement activities, expressing deep concern that such practices "would lead to more tension in the region".

The situation between Israel and the Palestinians "has to be resolved as part of the general political margin that will end half a century of Israeli military occupation and lead to the two-state solution", the UN chief said.

Israel has imposed a blockade over the Gaza Strip since the Islamist Hamas movement took control of Gaza in 2007. Since then, Israel has employed a restricted permit policy to allow people to leave the strip in humanitarian cases and to enable only limited import of essential goods.

IANS

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