Palestine calls for end to Israeli blockade of Gaza

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Palestine on Thursday called on the international community not only to continue providing economic and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people, but also to push for an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza.

The call was made by the Permanent Observer of Palestine to the United Nations Riyad Mansour at a UN General Assembly meeting on assistance to the Palestinian people, who urged the international community "to exert all efforts, including practical measures, to compel Israel to immediately lift its dehumanizing, unlawful blockade of the Gaza strip."

The international community needs to take "action to remove the tremendous obstacles the occupying power is placing on the ground, " with lives of more than 1.6 million Palestinians being affected, according to Mansour.

The Israeli government "regrettably continues to impose trade restrictions making the Palestinian economy dependent on the Israeli economy," said the Palestinian ambassador.

At this time, according to him, Palestine is "unable to access the international marketplace, Palestinians are forced to trade with Israel, the occupying power, which makes the State of Palestine the number one importer of Israeli products."

Consequently, "this high dependence deprives the Palestinian economy of more competitive sources of imports and markets for exports, and heightens its vulnerability to the Israeli business cycle," said Mansour.

Mansour noted that the limited economic freedom has posed " another immense impediment to achieving sustainable Palestinian economic growth" because Palestinian entrepreneurs have limited access to competitive international markets, especially for exporting agricultural goods.

According to the envoy, these circumstances have created a desperate need for "economic and humanitarian assistance by the international community" which is "crucial, but not enough."

"If the international community truly aspires to witness the two-State solution materialize and observe a sustained economic growth trajectory and development for the Palestinian people, it must compel the occupying power to end all of its illegal measures and actions and finally terminate its military occupation," said Mansour. "The international community must step up its responsibility and put pressure on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law, humanitarian law and human rights law."

Late last month, the United Nations General Assembly voted and granted an upgrade of Palestine's status from observer "entity" to "non-member state," which is an implicit and symbolic recognition of Palestine's statehood at the UN.

The 193 UN member states voted 138 to 9, with 41 abstentions, to support a draft resolution co-sponsored by about 70 countries, including China, Brazil, Jordan, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, South Africa. The resolution "reaffirms the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967."

The UN General Assembly "decides to accord to Palestine non- member observer State status in the United Nations, without prejudice to the acquired rights, privileges and role of the Palestinian people," said the resolution.

Peace talks between Israel and Palestine came to a halt in 2010 over the former's increasing construction in the West Bank settlements, which was condemned by the Palestinians, the international community and the Israeli center-left wing. The Palestinians have demanded the construction in the settlements be frozen before resuming peace talks.

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