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Source: Germany
20 January 2009

Gaza: Steinmeier proposes EU Work Plan

Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's five-phase plan is aimed at pooling Europe's efforts following the entry into force of a ceasefire in Gaza. The initiative has been cleared in advance with the Czech EU Presidency and EU High Representative Javier Solana, and has been passed on to the EU Member States for further coordination.

Following the suspension of hostilities in Gaza, the international community must do all it can to arrive at a durable ceasefire. Germany and the EU can play a major role in these efforts.

The Work Plan proposed by Steinmeier identifies five main areas of European commitment:

· humanitarian action: emergency aid for the people of Gaza, emergency rehabilitation of electricity and water supply;

· prevention of illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition: training and mentoring of security forces; provision of necessary specialized equipment;

· sustained re-opening of crossing points based on the 2005 Agreement on Movement and Access: this includes the resumption of the EU Border Assistance Mission in Rafah and the examination of a possible EU role in opening further crossing points;

· reconstruction: damage assessment and reconstruction conference;

· resumption of the Israel-Palestine negotiating process: consultation with the Middle East Quartet partners and the Arab League.

Details of this engagement can be elaborated in further discussions with the European partners.

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