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E.U., Russia demand Israel allow free traffic into Gaza

(JTA) — In a joint statement, the European Union and Russia demanded Israel allow “unconditional” traffic in and out of Gaza.

“The European Union and the Russian Federation call for the immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of crossings for the flow of goods and persons to and from the Gaza Strip,” the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said in a statement Friday.

Since 2007, Gaza has been controlled by Hamas, an organization the European Union considers a terrorist organization. 

The statement also said that Europe and Russia are "deeply dismayed by and strongly oppose Israeli plans to expand settlements in the West Bank.” 

Recently announced plans to build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank and in the E1 area near Jerusalem would “jeopardize the possibility of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state,” said the statement, which also called for the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Israel announced its construction plans after the United Nations voted in favor of upgrading the Palestinian Authority’s status to non-member state observer. Since then, fourteen members of the U.N. Security Council have criticized the move, including the United States. 

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