19th June, 2010
Here at the Turkish Press is an article in praise of Tony Blair’s part in the recent Israeli government’s easing of the Gaza blockade – The Impact Of The Quartet On Israel’s Security Cabinet Vote
“The international community would be well advised to lend more support to the quartet and its Middle East envoy, Blair.”
Well, that’s something. The British press next? Don’t hold your breath.
(See here for my search results for the printed British press coverage of this breakthrough, where they deign to mention Tony Blair’s name.)
BY KLAUS JURGENS
TODAY’S ZAMAN- After two days of deliberations, this Thursday morning Israel’s Security Cabinet approved a partial easing of the blockade of the Gaza Strip. This decision comes after the Middle East Quartet’s envoy, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, held talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
As it transpired this morning, Blair had been rather realistic when he told CNN this Wednesday that a deal to ease the Israeli blockade of Gaza could be in place ‘pretty quickly.’ As Mr. Blair had furthermore stated on the same day, he would expect a reversal of the current system, based on having a list of accepted goods which are allowed to enter Gaza, replaced by a system whereby ‘stuff can go in as a matter of course, unless it is on a prohibited list.’
For the first time, this new arrangement explicitly mentions construction materials as accepted goods which can be freely transported into Gaza. Israel had previously said that construction materials could be misused for non-civilian purposes.
A short statement issued by the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned that Israel would ‘liberalize the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza [and] expand the inflow of materials for civilian projects that are under international supervision.’ It would also continue ‘existing security procedures to prevent the inflow of weapons and war material” (BBC World). Additional steps would be announced concerning the implementation of today’s vote. At the same time, Israel asked the international community to support its efforts to release Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Hamas back in 2006.
BBC Middle East correspondent Tim Franks said, ‘The key now will be just how far and how fast these measures take place.’
The international community would be well advised to lend more support to the quartet and its Middle East envoy, Blair. While many commentators, including myself, had been rather disappointed and perhaps even disillusioned with regards to detecting any measurable outputs or impacts from Mr. Blair’s work on location so far, we should probably think twice, and most likely need to appreciate that creating a lasting solution for peace cannot happen overnight.
If the quartet now embraces Turkey’s experience in the region and as long as Ankara continues to keep its, relative, cool, perhaps the efforts of Blair and the international community may finally bear fruit in the interest of both the Israeli and the Palestinian peoples as well as the entire world. Being a realistic commentator, though, I am fully aware of the fact that we have issued similar statements all too often before. Does hope have a place in international politics? Yes – as long as we do not lose faith in it!
STILL ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN PRESS FRONT
Using these search terms at Google – Tony Blair quartet Israel blockade Gaza – it brought up 151,000 results. It took 7 pages of returns before I saw anything from Britain at this search (apart from my post at this blog, and Mr Blair’s Office website.) There is a Channel 4 return and plenty of opinion before the Israeli government’s agreed position. As usual the line is the bemoaning default, and their clear expectation of failure. VERY little from the British press after the breakthrough.
Why aren’t they jumping up and down in great joy that one of ours has been instrumental in this role, even if it is only a first step? You might well ask.
It’s simple really. To praise Tony Blair would go against the grain. They might even be seen to have been lying or at the very least misleading us about Mr Blair’s motives and work in the Middle East. Many in our press have spent the years since 2001/2 telling the British people that Blair is all sorts of unhelpful things. Now to describe him as being influential in securing the new Israeli policy, and thus assisting the Palestinian people, is a touch too painful.
So they’ll try to ignore it. Then it, and he, might just go away.
EVIDENCE OF THE ‘ANTI’ AGENDA OF OUR PRESS –
I used these search terms – ‘Tony Blair quartet Israel blockade Gaza’
Below are the only Google returns from the British mainstream press in the first 20 pages of my search.
18 Jun 2010 … Tony Blair had urged Israel to switch from an ‘allowed’ list to a ‘ … which Tony Blair, representing the “Quartet” of the US, EU, …
18 Jun 2010 … Israel Decides To Ease Gaza Blockade Succumbing under intense international … Benjamin Netanyahu and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair. …
(If anyone sends me links to BRITISH papers where Mr Blair is mentioned as being instrumental in this cause – ANY I or Google may have missed – I will gladly add them.)
UPDATE research. Just as I was about to publish this I did a refresh search with the same search terms. Suddeny from only 151,000 results there are now 14,800,000 returns – the top two being from the Independent and Guardian. The leading one of almost 15 million is an Independent leader titled “A sop to the outside world”!!!!
(my exclamation marks)
Very positive, eh?
So, was I a touch too hasty to blame our press for this oversight? Was it no more than a slow Google update and not a slow British press? Maybe. I will lay aside for the moment the suggestions of some that there is an agenda within Google. I do not know if that is likely. Anyway, it is enough to be going on with what we all already know about agendas – the ‘anti’ agendas of the Independent and the Guardian.
Italian pressure on Blair and Quartet to “take a stand on the Gaza blockade”. Quite. Job done, or at least started, Mr Frattini.
‘The Quartet for the Middle East should take a “stand” to encourage Israel to further ease its blockade as soon as possible,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told former British prime minister Tony Blair on Friday.’