Faymann calls for end of Gaza embargo

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Chancellor Werner Faymann appealed to Israeli leaders to lift the Gaza Strip embargo as he met with the country’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday (Weds).Faymann explained: “We (the Austrian government) want Israel to end the embargo of the Gaza Strip.”The chancellor stressed at the same time that he accepted that goods transported into the area inhabited by Palestinians must be checked “to avoid weapon-smuggling”.Faymann said he supported international appeals to reintroduce the transport of foodstuff and building material into Gaza.The SPÖ boss, who will return to Austria later today, is the first head of state to have visited Israel after a violent incident on an international aid ship last month.Nine activists were killed and dozens injured when Israeli soldiers captured the “Free Gaza” Mavi Marmara in international waters.The incident sparked worldwide outcry and sharp criticism of Israel’s policies.Netanyahu meanwhile argued the country had to defend itself, claiming activists attacked soldiers and tried to smuggle weapons into Gaza.Faymann revealed yesterday he could imagine the Austrian participating in monitoring deliveries into Gaza as it has been suggested by European Union (EU) leaders recently.”The main focus must be on supporting the Middle East peace process – but not in a patronising way,” the chancellor – who also met Palestine political leaders – said.Faymann’s journey follows Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) Vice Chancellor Josef Pröll’s three-day visit to Israel last month.Both Pröll and Faymann visited the Holocaust memorial of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, while the vice chancellor caused a bit of a stir by attending a disco clubbing event hosted by Austrian expats.