Comment at end
3rd June 2010
Blair urges Israel to lift Gaza blockade
Tony Blair: “I don’t think it’s simply as a result of this incident. I just think the policy in Gaza’s counter-productive, and what we should be doing is allowing material in that rebuilds homes and sanitation and power and water systems…”
Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that the blockade was necessary to prevent rocket attacks – “The same countries that are criticising us today should know that they would be targetted tomorrow.”
I notice that over at the Sky News comments on this story there is far more support for Israel’s position than is the general consensus at such as The Guardian. Hamas’s foot-shooting – we won’t let the ships disembark its load (evidently not as desperately needed as we have been led to believe) until the Israelis release ALL the Boat people, has not helped their cause. Good. All the Israelis now have to do is retain a few of them – those they suspect of being linked to IHH.
Over at Rentoul’s he too has this story, in response to those who ask “where is Tony Blair?”
What Snow actually meant was “Blair’s fault too?” (and by the way, he asks, where is he?)
The first question of Snow’s was meant to be rhetorical. It invariably is, when he asks. Just as it’s often innuendo-laden hysteria when he tells. True, Blair did not leap knee-jerking to criticism of the action the Israelis took. Let’s be blunt, that’s what Mr Snow from his well-known viewpoint would have wanted. It is never going to happen in the diplomatic world. The Americans and even the present British government limited their responses too. As regards negotiating and the Middle East Mr Blair once said that you can get off your chest all you like, but you still have to work with people the next day.
So, although Mr Blair had actually made a statement the day prior to Mr Snow’s searching for him – the next day, a day after Snow’s “where is the envoy” query, CNN reported this –
(CNN) — June 2, 2010 2:38 p.m. EDT Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has expressed concern over Israel’s policy towards Gaza following Monday’s commando raid on an international flotilla carrying aid to the blockaded Palestinian territory.
Blair, an envoy for the Middle East Quartet — the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — working toward peace in the region, said Israel’s blockade of the region since 2007 wasn’t working.
“At the moment the difficulty with the current policy, apart from the events from the last few days is that we’re not helping the people and isolating the extremists,” Blair told CNN. “We’re in danger of doing it the wrong way round.”
Blair also backed the U.N. Security Council’s call for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent” investigation into the raid which led to the deaths of at least nine people.
“I think the important thing is people want to know the facts,” he told CNN. “So there’s got to be a proper investigation. I think Hillary Clinton set out the criteria very well and very sensibly earlier and we’ve got to get that under way.”
Blair, who has publicly stated that he opposes the economic blockade of Gaza, said that one of the main issues facing the Palestinian territory was a lack of proper access.
“I’ve been saying that for the best part of two years that this (the blockade) is a policy that doesn’t work,” Blair said.
“At the present time it’s very hard to get materials into Gaza. We need to get not just humanitarian materials but materials that can rebuild the infrastructure.”
Blair said that while “illegitimate” business interests were using tunnels to get goods into the territory, “what we’re not doing is allowing the sector that is legitimate, the proper business sector, to conduct its business and of course this is what we’ve got to change.”
Blair also praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his government’s involvement in the region.
“Well, the most important thing for the Americans is that President Obama’s gripped this from the very beginning of his time as president; I mean, that’s the single most important thing,” Blair said.
“The important thing for America is that they continue to be engaged in this.”
I do sometimes wonder what journalists are paid for – apart from looking for “facts” that back up their own “troofs”.
- More on Blair’s thoughts on Gaza
- Et en francais, si vous voulez
- Not that everyone is impressed by Blair’s call
David Aaronovitch – Gaza’s waves will crash on Turkey’s shore:
“If the flotilla incident turns Turks against Israel and towards the east, it should fill us with fear for the future”
In this, yet again, the issue of Gaza shows its capacity to cause polarisation and violence well beyond the land itself. The wealthy Turkish backers of the first boats are now putting together the money for another flotilla. And what will our clever Israeli commander do then?
The risking of the relationship with Turkey symbolises the impossibility of current Israeli policy towards the strip. This blockade must be lifted and some way of having a dialogue with those who run Gaza must somehow be established. Time to brandish the carrot and to hide the stick. The stick is broken in any case.
3. On 1st June a YouGov poll showed that Israel is losing the battle of public opinion. I wonder if that is about to alter? On this 1st June poll 53% think the blockade is unjustified compared to 22% who think it is justified.
4. Meanwhile, on the BBC Radio4 news tonight it seems that Hamas has refused to unload the “essential” aid still loaded on the moored ships. It says it won’t do so until the Israelis release EVERYONE including all Arabs who were arrested on the Mavi Marmara.
I’ve done a quick search – found nothing in the British press apart from this from, guess what – the ultra-left, communist Morning Star. Interesting omission from most of the mainstream printed press.
Catch up! You might even get to the truth.
5. But knowing it’s all about politics, and little to do with humanitarian aid, the captured Israelis soldier’s family did try to step into the fray 0n 27th May. A pity Hamas refused. The Israeli government too wants Schalit’s release. Personally I doubt if he’s still alive. But Israelis have a tradition of re-possessing the bodies of their dead. Dead or alive, they want him back.
Excerpt: The Schalit family on Thursday asked for assistance from international left-wing activists due to arrive in the Gaza Strip later in the day. If the left-wing activists pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to Gilad Schalit, the kidnapped soldier’s family has agreed to support the international expedition’s attempt to dock, Army Radio reported Thursday. Lawyer Nick Kaufman presented the offer to the organization “Free Gaza,” one of the organizers of the flotilla headed for Gaza, which promptly refused the offer.
“We are disappointed that the organizers of the flotilla have refused to also provide basic humanitarian assistance to our son, who has been held in Gaza four years in contradiction of international law,” said the Schalit family.
Another ship, the Irish-owned Rachel Corrie is still on its way to Gaza. Israel says it will not be allowed to pass. More to come.
Give us a few more (video) messages like this – “I want to be a shahid (martyr)” – and the dullards at CIF might finally see the light.
In footage captured on the Gaza flotilla, a passenger describes how he has attempted in previous convoys to become a martyr and that “with god’s luck” he will succeed on this flotilla. While the Gaza flotilla passengers had presented themselves as peace activists who would not act violently towards Israeli forces, this provides further evidence to the contrary.
In the early hours of the 31st of May 2010, IDF soldiers boarded the ships of the “Free Gaza” Flotilla, after the ships refused to redirect their course. Aboard the Mavi Marmara the soldiers encountered serious violence when, in a preplanned attack, the activists on board lynched the soldiers with knives, metal rods and stole two of their guns. As a result 7 soldiers were injured and 9 activists were killed.
For more information please go to: www.idfspokesperson.com
FOURTH time “lucky”? We can but hope.
Tags: Cif, CIFWatch, Gaza, Guardian, Hamas refuses to unload supplies, I want to be a martyr, I want to be a shahid, IDF Soldiers, IHH, Israel, Israel to lift its Gaza blockade, John Rentoul, Jon Snow, Mavi Marmara, Netanyahu, stop the blockade, Tony Blair, urges, videos, YouGov poll, youtube