The European Union offered Friday to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows, insisting on a durable truce and saying a return to the status quo for the region “is not an option.”
As EU foreign ministers held an urgent meeting in Brussels about global conflicts, Hamas negotiators met with the Islamic militant group’s leadership in Qatar to discuss a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel. An official said the group was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer.
The Gaza blockade remains the main stumbling block. Imposed by Israel and Egypt to prevent Hamas importing weapons, it has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.
The EU ministers offered to reactivate and potentially extend its monitoring of Rafah and other border crossings — if given a mandate by the U.N. Security Council and if it helps living conditions improve in Gaza.
In a statement, they said they could also work to prevent arms smuggling and launch a training program for Palestinian Authority police and customs officers to be deployed in Gaza. They said terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm and an overall peace deal remains the main objective.
“The situation in the Gaza Strip has been unsustainable for many years and a return to the status quo prior to the latest conflict is not an option,” they said.