By Daniel Dombey in Washington and Tobias Buck in Jerusalem
Published: January 22 2009 22:07 | Last updated: January 23 2009 00:0
President Barack Obama urged Israel on Thursday to open its borders with Gaza.
The plea came in a speech that signalled the new US administration’s shift from Bush-era policy on the Middle East and the world as a whole. In a high-profile address on his second day in office, just hours after he signed an executive order to close the centre at Guantánamo Bay, Mr Obama proclaimed that the US would “actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians” in the wake of this month’s Gaza war.
“The outline for a durable ceasefire is clear: Hamas must end its rocket fire: Israel will complete the withdrawal of its forces from Gaza: the US and our partners will support a credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot re-arm,” the US president said.
“As part of a lasting ceasefire, Gaza’s border crossings should be open to allow the flow of aid and commerce, with an appropriate monitoring regime, with the international and Palestinian Authority participating.”
Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, also announced the appointment of George Mitchell, as the US special envoy for the Arab-Israeli conflict and Richard Holbrooke, former US ambassador to the United Nations, as representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan.