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Hollande calls for easing blockade, demilitarizing Gaza

(JTA) — French President Francois Hollande called for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and the easing of Gaza’s blockade.

Hollande’s speech Thursday to the French diplomatic corps was the latest sign that the international community plans to press for demilitarization after the latest war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Reports emerged in the Lebanese media on Friday that the United States is pressing the United Nations Security Council to call for such steps.

The terms of this week’s cease-fire “must be strictly, precisely and rigorously implemented, because Gaza must not remain an armed base for Hamas, nor should it be an open prison for its residents” Hollande said. “We must advance toward a progressive lifting of the blockade and a demilitarization of the territory.”

He outlined French proposals that included international supervision of the destruction of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, reopening Gaza’s border crossings with Israel and Egypt, and giving Hamas’ rival, the Palestinian Authority, the means to rebuild Gaza.

Hamas officials have said they would resist any steps to demilitarize and that they plan to re-arm.

In Iran, the head of the Basij, the militia best known for brutally repressing protests after the 2009 election, widely seen as rigged, said this week that Iran would arm Palestinians in the West Bank.

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