Quartet presses for PA return to Gaza

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Quartet said it would encourage the placement of official Palestinian personnel at Gaza Strip crossings toward bringing the territory "under the legitimate Palestinian Authority."

The statement Monday by the grouping of the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations that guides the peace process was the latest from the international community calling for an end to the isolation of Gaza’s civilians.

Its endorsement of a PA presence at Gaza crossings, however, suggested that its members were prepared to step up pressure on Hamas, the terrorist group that drove out the Palestinian Authority in 2007, to return the PA to the coastal strip.

The Quartet "will actively explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, encourage involvement of the PA at the crossings and promote greater commerce between the West Bank and Gaza," the statement said. It also said that the Quartet "promotes Palestinian unity based on the Palestine Liberation Organization commitments and the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under the legitimate Palestinian Authority." Hamas rejects prior PLO and PA commitments.

The statement called Israel’s plans, announced Monday, to open land crossings to all but the import of weapons and the means to manufacture them "a welcome development."

"Full and effective implementation will comprise a significant shift in strategy towards meeting the needs of Gaza’s population for humanitarian and commercial goods, civilian reconstruction and infrastructure, and legitimate economic activity as well as the security needs of Israel," the statement said. "The Quartet will continue to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and other concerned parties to ensure these arrangements are implemented as quickly as possible."

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