23 Jan 2009

Obama urges Israel to open Gaza borders

11:21 am on 23 January 2009

US President Barack Obama on Thursday called on Israel to open Gaza border crossings to aid and commerce, as part of a lasting ceasefire following the conflict with Hamas.

In his first major comments on the Middle East conflict since he was inaugurated on Tuesday, the president called for a monitoring regime involving the Palestinian Authority and the international community for open Gaza borders.

He said relief efforts must be able to reach innocent Palestinians who depend on them.

The president also said he was deeply concerned about the loss of civilian life in the Gaza conflict.

But he added Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israeli territory, and that he was fervently committed to Israel's security.