Israeli minister urges EU 'inspectors' for Gaza borders

Israeli minister urges EU 'inspectors' for Gaza borders

Berlin (AFP) - Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called for EU "inspectors" to monitor Gaza's borders amid efforts to extend a ceasefire, in a German newspaper interview published Thursday.

"Not police or soldiers. But Germany and the EU must dispatch inspectors to Gaza to monitor the Palestinians' trade with the neighbouring countries," Lieberman told the mass-circulation Bild daily in comments published in German.

"The EU already did that once at a crossing in Rafah in the south of Gaza," he said.

After a month of deadly conflict, Israel and Hamas appear at odds over extending a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza that expires at 0500 GMT on Friday.

The EU implemented its so-called EUBAM operation in 2005 at the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt.

In cooperation with Israeli and Palestinian officials, the mission of 70 European police officers monitored movements of people, goods and vehicles at the crossing, Gaza's only window to the outside world that bypasses Israel.

But it was suspended in June 2007 after Hamas seized power in the Gaza Strip.

France last month proposed reviving the operation and Germany has backed the call.

Lieberman also told Bild that Israel did not want to again "administer" Gaza after it withdrew its troops and settlers from the coastal enclave in September 2005.

But he said a solution needed to be found for the residents of Gaza and urged Germany to take a leading role.