Breaking: Israel Cabinet vote – Gaza blockade eased

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    17th June 2010

    Israel cabinet votes to ease Gaza Strip blockade

    Source: BBC report

    Israeli cabinet ministers have voted to ease the land blockade of the Gaza Strip and allow more civilian goods to enter the Palestinian territory.

    The move comes after last month’s Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla attempting to break the blockade was widely condemned.

    Nine Turkish activists died in the attack on the flotilla in international waters.

    Pressure for an easing of the Gaza blockade intensified after the raid.

    ABC News:

    Under the plan, Israel would “liberalise the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision,” the statement said.

    But it also stressed that Israel would “continue existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war materiel”.

    Alongside the easing of the four-year blockade, the 15-member security cabinet said it expected the international community “to work toward the immediate release of Gilad Shalit”, the Israeli soldier snatched by Gaza-based militants in June 2006.

    The Gaza blockade was first imposed by Israel in the aftermath of Shalit’s capture, but was tightened significantly after Hamas forcibly took over the Palestinian enclave a year later.



    Still waiting for the first British media source to mention Mr Blair’s name in association with this breakthrough. Considering that he has been busy working on Netanyahu on this, and looked a little shattered at the EU Luxembourg meeting the other day, you’d think they might have noticed SOMEthing. I suppose after all their “where is the Middle East envoy” anti propaganda, it’s tough to swallow this.

    The New York Times has this from Isabel Kershner from Jerusalem, and Alan Cowell from Paris.

    “The announcement followed discussions between Mr. Netanyahu and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the international envoy of the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers grouping the United States, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union.”


    Channel 4 has this:

    “Today’s announcement had been flagged by the International Middle East Envoy Tony Blair earlier this week.

    Speaking outside the EU foreign minsters meeting in Luxembourg on Monday, he said Israel would be moving from the existing “prohibited’ list which allowed the stopping of most goods into Gaza to a ‘permitted’ list. He called the change in emphasis ‘significant’.

    The new list is understood to include all food items, toys, stationery, kitchen utensils, mattresses and towels. It is also thought to allow in limited building materials for civilian projects such as cement for the first time, but only under international supervision.”

    WELL DONE, CHANNEL 4! And I don’t often say that.

    On the BBC Radio 4 news at 1:00pm, as I update, there is a report on this. It is heavily slanted towards Palestinian and worldwide scepticism and the “first step” angle.  And, so far there is STILL no mention of Tony Blair. Will let you know if they interview him.  It has mentioned Hamas’s response to this – “not enough” and two pacifist flotilla members’ thoughts.  Only “high pressure” from the international community is behind this concession, they say. The BBC reporter, to be fair, asked one activist how Israel can be assured that weaponry won’t be made using these imports.  She expressed her ignorance of how this would happen. Asked if Hamas should release the Israeli soldier, Shalit, who has been held for 4 years, she said I hope they are moving now on this.

    The Israeli Deputy Ambassador to Britain says, as I write, “Tony Blair has been extremely helpful in these negotiations.” She says “it is for the international community to ensure that no more flotillas are allowed into this volatile area.”

    Quite right too.

    And another thing …

    As another flotilla is due to set off from Lebanon, and as IHH talks to the EU(!), Israel adds IHH to its terror watch list.


    ‘Foreign Ministry director-general Yossi Gal told foreign diplomats yesterday that a flotilla setting off from Lebanon “will not be allowed in.”

    Gal said Israel sees the flotilla as hostile because it is supported by Hezbollah and setting off from an enemy state, and that Israel cannot dismiss the possibility that the ships will be carrying weapons, terrorists or both.

    Israel has told the United States, France and the United Nations to send the message to Lebanon that Israel views the flotilla as a “provocation intended to escalate the violence.”

    Through intermediaries, Israel has been told the Lebanese government cannot stop the flotilla because it is a private initiative.’

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