Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, February 14, 2011

Eye-catching in Gaza

In a comment on this post, Stan suggested that I should visit the website of Tony Blair's office to read about the relaxation of the Israeli blockade of gaza which TB had negotiated. So I did. Shortly afterwards, as you might expect, Uncle Jimmy covered the story over on his site.

Stan may be surprised, but this story pleases me. So much of the time, Blair's role as Quartet Envoy is all about him and scarcely at all about the benefit of anyone else (not even the Israelis, never mind the Palestinians). But here he is, if we take at face value the description of the deal as having been negotiated by him (remember this is Mr "eye-catching initiatives with which I can be personally associated"......), actually arriving at a packages of measures which may look individually underwhelming but whose combined effect will - if all goes to plan - be a considerable improvement of the lot of the ordinary Palestinian.

Stan refers specifically to the measures relating to Gaza, and on my reading of the package those are the ones that will make the biggest difference. Hard though it is to remember after Operation Cast Lead, Gaza is not under Israeli occupation, but it is under a still-stringent blockade, and anything that alleviates the effect of that will be huge. The energy arrangements alone would be significant, though there is plenty of room for difficulties on both sides in their implementation. Even looking for nagative points (and Stan would expect no less) the only one I can find is that it's the Government of Israel which requires the installation of a dedicated scanner to vet all Gazan exports. It is the GoI which will benefit from the presence of this scanner. Yet who will be paying for it? Yup, us. Ah well. Every rose has its thorn, and that one is more a cause for well-what-do-you-expect-from-the-world's-biggest-subsidy-junkies head-shaking than serious complaint.

The measures relating to the West Bank and East Jerusalem are also worthwhile, yet there is an odd omission there. In his announcement of the package, TB says, quite rightly,

"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."

Yet when we come to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, he has not a word to say about the Israeli settlements or the military occupation. Let's be quite clear here: the representative of four bodies every one of which considers that Israel's presence in those places is illegal finds time in his speech to call on the Gazans to stop rocketing Israel, but none to mention the policy he is presumably being (in part) paid to uphold. I realise that the Israel-right-or-wrong Zionists (including Jimmy) think the occupation and the illegal settlements are bo-ring, and consider calls for the law to be upheld mere "obstructionism" :

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.

Most of the world begs to differ. As long as Israel's army and its settlers (most of whom are little better than terrorists themselves) remain in the West Bank and East Jerusalem (oh, and let's not forget the Golan Heights) any political settlement, even one backed by Tony Blair, will have no more chance of success than a post-WW2 peace with Germany would have had if Germany had been left in possession of Poland and half of France.

Still, politics is the art of the possible, and Tony Blair may have felt that reminding the Israelis that they have to go would spoil his cosy relationship with Mr Netanyahu - not the most tactful thing to do when you've just got the guy to make some useful concessions. So maybe it was just a question of timing. I would like to see some recognition by Blair though, that Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 borders is his employers' policy.

But hey, glass half full! More please.


At 15 February, 2011 13:30, Anonymous Stan said...

A suprisingly fair post, Rob. Well done (and for taking the trouble to look up the link I gave you).

But be careful. You may be losing some of your fans as a result.

At 17 February, 2011 04:00, Blogger Rob said...

Oh I doubt it, Stan. Surely there were enough sideswipes at your hero to keep them happy?

But thank you for the comment.

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