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7th February 2011
GOOD NEWS FROM GAZA IS NO NEWS
On 4th February at the Tony Blair Office/Quartet News website there was this: Tony Blair announces package of measures for Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem
This article at the Tony Blair Office website has been updated with the above picture. You’d think SOMEBODY in the mainstream press might have noticed the country which has exported these items to Gaza.
Silence, from our willfully blind and dumb press.
Clearly they are more impressed by the Palestinian negotiator Erekat’s dismissal of these measures than by anything as straightforward as the facts on the ground.
“This is deception and we don’t need such gestures,” Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
“We need a solution that includes a settlement freeze and acceptance of the two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 borders,” said Erekat.
So there we go. Nothing else matters but a settlement freeze and returning to the 1967 borders. I do have to wonder at times why anyone bothers any more with these obstructionists.
I also have to wonder for how much longer are we expected to allow prejudice against anything concerning Blair, Israel or Netanyahu to dominate our press reports?
If this country – Britain – IS a freedom-loving, free-press democracy, it deserves indeed requires the full picture, good as well as “bad” from such areas of conflict. Under any circumstances, surely these “changes on the ground” are worth reporting? “Change” is constantly called for in Egypt, and has been the watchword in many parts of the word in recent times. Quite why change is ignored when it is happening on the ground in the Israel/Palestinian situation is hard to fathom.
Back to the article (the emphasis is mine):
Quartet Representative Tony Blair, speaking at a joint announcement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 4 February 2011, said:
“Even against the background of events in the region and the absence of direct political negotiations, it is important we continue to do all we can to improve the conditions and living standards of the Palestinian people. Indeed it is now especially important.
“I am pleased at the package of measures agreed today with the Government of Israel.
“I thank the Prime Minister for his personal involvement in and support for these measures. The discussions we have been having go back several months. This is my seventh visit to the region in as many weeks. On each occasion the Prime Minister has been generous with his time and determined to move this agenda forward.
“The package breaks into three parts:
“First, a comprehensive set of changes in Gaza, building on those approved in June 2010. The most important is a long-standing request of the Palestinian Authority and President Abu Mazen for an agreement to revive discussions on the vital project of ‘Gaza Marine’ gas field, with approval in principle of the supply of Palestinian offshore gas to Gaza power plants and specific project approval to a new power station there. Clearly there are many items to be worked out but this is an important breakthrough for the Palestinian Authority, people in Gaza and the broader region.
“In addition, there is agreement to mobile desalination plants to meet Gaza’s needs for clean water; and approval in principle for a larger permanent desalination plant.
“There is also full approval for all the sanitation and water treatment plants necessary for Gaza, with the Government of Israel agreeing to facilitate and support the entry of construction materials to enable projects to be completed on schedule. There are further measures to promote Gaza exports, especially in furniture and textiles as well as agriculture.
“A further 20 named construction projects will be approved. We aim to begin a pilot project for private sector construction materials by 1 April; and in February the Government of Israel will transfer around 40,000 tons of aggregates from Sufa/Karni into Gaza.
“The combination of these measures should result, over time, in a radical overhaul of Gaza’s infrastructure.
“In this regard, I would urge an end to all attacks coming out of Gaza. Such attacks inhibit our ability to help the people of Gaza and the absence of such attacks allows us to get on with the job of helping them.
“On the West Bank, there will be an extension of Palestinian Authority security presence in Area B – with 7 towns approved in principle; an agreement to fast-track the construction or reconstruction of schools and health clinics in Area C on the basis of plans submitted by the Palestinian Authority and my office to COGAT. 5000 Gaza-registered residents of the West Bank will be given WB ID cards. Outstanding issues to do with revenue collection are agreed to be resolved quickly between the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority Finance Ministries.
“Thirdly, in respect of East Jerusalem, the Government of Israel has agreed to encourage the implementation of all projects that abide by municipal regulations that will improve infrastructure there for Palestinians, including in particular housing, starting with two projects in East Jerusalem.
“Obviously, agreement to all this is not the same as implementation. There is always a continual interaction on this between the Office of the Quartet Representative and the Government of Israel. But over these past two years there has been significant change on the West Bank, as can be seen from the strong economic growth there. This has been due, of course, to the Palestinian Authority’s actions; but also actions of the Government of Israel to facilitate them.
“In respect of Gaza, though the challenge remains enormous, there has been a significant increase in goods entering Gaza and in construction work. The measures today will boost all of this significantly and personally I believe the green light to improving living standards and conditions of people in East Jerusalem is of enormous importance to the future.
“None of this is a substitute for a credible political process. I hope one gets underway as soon as possible. But I have always maintained that it is a combination of measures that improve life on the ground and a strong political negotiation that will produce peace.
“Today, with all the uncertainty in the region, I believe that more than ever.”
To read Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments please click here:
Israeli President Shimon Peres says – Time for Israeli-Palestinian Peace is Now
Peres is right, and for several reasons.
One, there are murmurings of the Egypt domino effect threatening, of all people, the Palestinian Authority under Abbas. Recent rallies in the West Bank in support of the Egyptian demonstrators were quelled by PA police, forcibly, it is reported.
Two, the Palestinians should be disabused, if that is their intention, of being temped to await some sort of pro-Palestinain settlement in Egypt, after which they may hope to squeeze more concessions from an Israel which may feel even more isolated than at present. Things, to paraphrase, may only get worse.
Three, Israel should halt its construction in the West Bank, without prejudice, in order for a peace settlement to take firm root.
If ever there was a time that this moribund Israeli/Palestinian peace protest was gasping to have new life breathed into it, that time is now.
I proposed here some 15 months ago that they should Give Tony Blair political power in Israeli & Palestinian peace negotiations. I believe that to be the case even more strongly today, now that American political influence in the region has been seen to be fragile and its direction confused.
So I repeat – there is one man whose job description should be changed with immediate effect. Give Tony Blair the political power, and watch democracy take root. If he can’t move things in the right direction for the good of all, quite simply – no-one can.
‘Munich – The Middle East peace process should keep up momentum, not get distracted by the turmoil in the Arab world and lead to a conclusion of negotiations by September, the Middle East Quartet said in a statement following a meeting in Munich Saturday.”In view of the developments in the Middle East, the Quartet expressed its belief that further delay in the resumption of negotiations is detrimental to prospects for regional peace and security.”The Quartet, comprised of United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, reiterated its support for concluding negotiations “by September 2011.”UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, US Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union Catherine Ashton.They were joined by Quartet Representative Tony Blair.The Quartet agreed to meet again in March.’
Below is a recent tweet from Tony Blair Office on Twitter
Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here
I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)