The European Union should “establish a strong, real and effective force” to address arms smuggling and other security issues in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has proposed, adding that such an EU-established force could see the end of Israel’s blockade of entry points into the Gaza Strip. EUobserver says Lieberman’s proposal was part of a communiqué he released following his meeting with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton. But a contact from within Ashton’s delegation said it may be hard to incorporate the idea of setting up such a force to the EU’s current offer, which includes infrastructure aid and training for Palestinian officials near the border, economic assistance to help the Gaza Strip revive its economy and measures to meet Israel’s security concerns, the news website adds.
Meantime, Ashton has condemned the demolition of a hotel in East Jerusalem and the “planned construction of a new illegal settlement” in the area. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, meanwhile, has urged Israel to “revise its position” on peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority as well as rethink its policy on settlement-building in the Gaza Strip.