Israel says it will now permit more goods into Gaza, easing the
three-year blockade but still blocking "weapons and materials that Hamas uses
." The new Gaza
policy comes after Israel announced on Thursday
it would ease its land blockade restrictions. What exactly Israel plans for "liberalizing the system by which civilian goods
enter Gaza" remains unclear as the country has not specified what goods
will remain prohibited. Israel has previously taken a broad view of what
it calls "dual use" items, such as concrete or construction tools, that
they say could be used to produce weapons. Here are the possible
effects of the blockade loosening.
- 'Diplomatic Relaxation'
With U.S. The New York Times' Isabel Kershner says the new
policy "earned unusual praise from the Obama administration" and won
Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu a July 6 meeting with Obama. "There were
other new signs of a diplomatic relaxation of the crisis atmosphere
that prevailed after the flotilla raid. Mr. Netanyahu announced the Gaza
changes jointly in Jerusalem with Tony Blair, the Middle East envoy of
the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers."
Possibility of Economic Growth The Guardian's Harriet Sherwood writes,
"The crucial issue of whether commercial goods will be allowed to cross
into Gaza to allow the recovery of its crippled economy was not
explicitly addressed in the statements. Decisions are still pending,
according to an Israeli official. Blair's office insisted that the
intention was 'to get the private sector going'. ... The blockade has
caused a humanitarian and economic crisis in Gaza, say aid agencies,
leaving 80% of Gazans dependent on handouts and leading to the closure
of thousands of businesses."
- Flotilla Investigation
'Whitewash' So Reconstruction Can Begin Foreign Policy's Marc Lynch writes, "the Israeli
government will significantly ease the blockade of Gaza in exchange for
American support for a whitewash of the investigation of the flotilla
incident. ... this is a good deal. No investigation was ever going to
produce anything of any particular value, but easing the blockade of
Gaza could have significant positive effects for the people of Gaza, the
prospects of Palestinian reconciliation, the peace process, and
American credibility in the region. ... To get the most out of this
move, it should only be the first step. The UN, NGOs, and the
international community should take advantage of the new system to begin
serious reconstruction and development efforts."
Step' Back Toward Pre-Blockade Status Liberal blogger Juan Cole explains, "Israelis
can continue the blockade even with a smaller list of prohibited items
by limiting truck traffic through the checkpoints. That traffic is tiny
now compared to the period before 2006, and Sunday’s announcement may
not increase it that much. ... how many items are let in is less
important than the volume of each ... If the increase is only 30% of the
present truck traffic, that would be about 23% of the trucks that
routinely traveled into Gaza before the blockade, up from the 17% of the
pre-blockade number that has been characteristic in the past year. A
'small step' indeed."
- Israel-U.S. 'Wall' Coming Down?
Liberal blogger Steve Hynd writes, "the Gaza Flotilla episode
has undermined something crucial in the
united-we-stand wall that the US and Israeli have presented to the
world. Such crises will come easier and can be smaller now, garnering
positive publicity gradually through events that will not all be as
shocking as the Flotilla attack. By forcing this small retreat, future
Israeli and U.S. retreats will come easier and faster. Thus, although it
sticks in my craw to countenance a lack of legal accountability for the
Flotilla assault, I'll reluctantly take the product, if that leads to a
wall being tore down, instead."
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