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Abbas urges peaceful lifting of embargo on Palestinian Authority

RIA Novosti

20:34 07/06/2010 ISTANBUL, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - Peaceful methods should be used to lift the embargo on the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday.

"All methods must be tried in order to end the embargo and pressures imposed on the Palestinian people," Abbas said in an interview with the Turkish NTV channel.

The Palestinian Authority leader arrived in Istanbul to take part in a meeting of an Asian security grouping.

A declaration condemning the Israeli attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla aid ships, is expected to be adopted during the meeting.

Israeli commandos stormed on May 31 the six-ship fleet in international waters off the coast of Gaza as it carried some 10,000 tons of aid and up to 700 human rights activists to the Palestinian enclave.

Eight of the nine activists confirmed dead in the attack were Turkish citizens. Mass anti-Israeli protests took place in Istanbul and Ankara last week as the country paid its last respects to the victims.

Abbas described the attack as a "massacre."

"The best answer to [the raid] is for Palestinian groups to reconcile and resist Israel hand-in-hand," he said. "If these convoys have been unsuccessful in lifting the blockade, then efforts must undoubtedly be intensified."

The Freedom Flotilla was trying to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip even though Israel had warned that it would not allow foreign ships to approach the coast.

Israel said the ships could have been carrying arms for militants in the Palestinian enclave and offered instead to receive the ships at its port of Ashdod, inspect the cargo and then transport it overland to Gaza.

Many of the 1.5 million people living in Gaza lack sufficient supplies of clean water and other vital items.

The Hamas Islamist movement, which has controlled Gaza since summer 2007, has refused to allow the seized Freedom Flotilla cargo into the enclave until Turkey gives the go-ahead.

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