Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy for the European Union, on Monday slammed the Israeli policy of maintaining hundreds of roadblocks in the West Bank, and the ongoing siege in the Gaza Strip. He added that these practices are preventing economic development and blocking international aid.
Blair’s comments came after a regular meeting for the European donor countries on Monday, which included representatives of a number of nations which had collectively pledged $7 billion in aid for the Palestinian Authority in December.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and European Union External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner echoed Blair’s sentiments, saying that Israel’s ongoing occupation and siege impede peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians.
A joint statement by the three leaders said, "Without a significant lifting of such barriers in the West Bank, and a relaxation of the restrictions on humanitarian and commercial flows to the Gaza Strip … any economic recovery will continue to be inhibited."
Blair and the other leaders acknowledged that some progress had been made, but faulted the Israeli government with failing to live up to agreements made with the Palestinian Authority, saying, "Israel should make the full and rapid implementation of the package it agreed to a high priority."
The statement also called on all of the countries that agreed to give money to the Palestinian Authority last December to live up to their promises and make the payments. The Arab League was mentioned in the directive, but no specific countries.