Israel did not allow German Development Cooperation Minister Dirk Niebel to go to the Gaza Strip to visit a German-funded water purification plant in the war-torn Palestinian territory.
There are fears that the Hamas movement may take advantage of visits by foreign politicians for propaganda purposes, an Israeli official told the German Press Agency dpa.
An official of Israel’s Foreign Ministry said, “There is a clear policy…We have explained that we do not allow the entry of foreign politicians to the Gaza Strip.”
“Refusing a German development minister entry to the Gaza Strip is a great foreign policy mistake on the part of the Israeli government,” said Niebel, whose comment was backed by German Federal Minister Guido Westerwelle.
Niebel also wanted to meet with United Nations staff in Gaza, according to the World Jewish Congress.
Meanwhile, humanitarian aid groups need not reach Gaza by sea, following the ease of the Israeli blockade in the Palestinian territory, Middle East envoy Tony Blair said. Israel agreed to allow the entry of all food items and a wider range of building supplies into Gaza. It will soon release a list of goods that will be denied entry in the territory, Bloomberg reports.
“Look, we have a sensible policy now,” Blair said today in an interview with Israeli Army Radio. “There is no need to bring things directly into the seaport in Gaza.”
Blair represents the Middle East Quartet, composed of the U.N., European Union, Russia and the U.S., which supports the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and “unimpeded flow of humanitarian aid, commercial goods and persons to and from Gaza.”