German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called Monday on Israel to lift its siege of the Gaza Strip, saying the blockade of 1.5 million people was "not acceptable."
"The blockade of Gaza supports extremism and weakens the moderates and we should not forget that Gaza is part of the two state solution and that is what we are working for," he told reporters while on a quick visit to the territory.
On Sunday, at a news conference in Al-Quds (Jerusalem) with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, the minister had called on Israel to allow exports to leave Gaza, saying such a move was "necessary."
Westerwelle was the first German minister to visit Gaza in nearly four years. He visited a local school, toured a water treatment plant being expanded with German finance, and met with local businessmen.
Westerwelle called Monday on Shalit's captors to "let him go home to his family.", but did not say a single word about thousands of Palestinian prisoners still suffering in Israeli jails.
Meanwhile,Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader, asked German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle to turn his words on lifting the Gaza siege into practical deeds. He urged Germany to work "more seriously" alongside all member countries of the European Union to completely end the blockade on Gaza.
The Hamas leader told the German news agency that the European delegations and figures' visits to the Strip reflected a positive international sympathy with the besieged Strip.
Asked on Westerwelle's call on Hamas to release the captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, Taha said that his movement welcomes any German initiative in this respect, affirming that releasing Shalit was linked to meeting his captors' demands on the release of Palestinian prisoners.
Westerwelle told a brief press conference after inspecting a water treatment project financed by his country in Gaza city that his visit was of "humanitarian nature", adding, "We will not forget Gaza".
The minister, who also met with UNRWA officials and a number of businessmen, said that Berlin was ready to support any effort for concluding a prisoners' exchange deal.