[A-List] Obama defends Israel as tactical shift prepared on Gaza blockade
james.irldaly at ntlworld.com
Fri Jun 11 09:27:14 MDT 2010
WSWS: Obama defends Israel as tactical shift prepared on Gaza blockade
By Patrick O'Connor
11 June 2010
President Barack Obama's meeting with Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbas in Washington on Wednesday again demonstrated US complicity
with the Israeli government's criminal blockade of Gaza that led to the May
31 raid on an aid flotilla which resulted in nine activists being shot dead
by Israeli naval commandos.
Obama described the situation in the besieged Palestinian territory as
"unsustainable" and noted that there were "debates within Israel,
recognising the problems with the status quo". On lifting the blockade, he
declared the "key" was in "making sure that Israel's security needs are met",
and that this could involve a "new conceptual framework" involving "ways of
focusing narrowly on arms shipments, rather than focusing in a blanket way
on stopping everything and then in a piecemeal way allowing things into
Israel has been able to maintain the two-year blockade and inflict a
humanitarian crisis upon 1.5 million people only thanks to US support. Now
what Obama is proposing is a tactical shift. It is now apparent that the
brutal collective punishment inflicted on the population of Gaza for the
election of a Hamas administration in 2006 has not succeeded in achieving
the goal of undermining and ousting the Islamists. As the New York Times
reported yesterday: "Three years after Israel and Egypt imposed an embargo
on this tormented Palestinian strip, shutting down its economy, a consensus
has emerged that the attempt to weaken the governing party, Hamas, and drive
it from power has failed."
The blockade has never been about preventing crude rockets being fired into
Israel from Gaza-instead it has formed part of a wider Israeli government
strategy of crushing all resistance among the Palestinians to the occupation
of their lands. McClatchy newspapers in the US reported Wednesday that it
has obtained an Israeli government document, via a freedom of information
lawsuit, which describes the siege not as a security measure but as
Israel's allies are increasingly sensitive to the reality that this mode of
warfare has prevented Fatah from re-establishing a presence in the territory
since it was routed in the mid-2007 civil conflict. Mahmoud Abbas and his
colleagues, including the unconstitutionally installed Prime Minister Salam
Fayyad, now govern only the limited areas of the West Bank not directly
occupied by Israel. Abbas's visit to Washington was another demonstration of
his abject servility; his priority in the aftermath of the Mavi Marmara
massacre has been to exploit the situation for his own purposes, urging a
shift on Gaza to bolster Fatah's standing against Hamas.
The foreign ministers of France, Italy and Spain-Bernard Kouchner, Franco
Frattini and Miguel Angel Moratinos respectively-yesterday issued a joint
statement stressing that a "lasting solution also implies that the
Palestinian Authority should be fully reinstated in Gaza" while calling for
the lifting of the blockade. The foreign ministers' posturing as peace
proponents is belied by the European powers' support for the Israeli
government. Kouchner et al. did not refer to the European Union's role in
2006 as a member of the Quartet (EU, UN, US, and Russia), when it froze
funds to the Palestinian Authority after Hamas won democratic elections. The
devastating financial embargo set the stage for the subsequent Israeli
blockade on all imports and exports to Gaza.
The three foreign ministers added that an investigation into the aid
flotilla operation must "be sure to avoid the mistakes made after the
submission of the Goldstone report, whose follow-up was exploited by the
Human Rights Council, half of whose resolutions, unfortunately, have been
devoted to condemning Israel." In other words, the Netanyahu government must
be assured that no action will be taken against it irrespective of what an
inquiry reveals about the violent Mavi Marmara raid.
The US and European governments all accept the pretext for Israeli violence
against the Palestinians-that it represents a legitimate "security" response
to the threat of terrorism. Former British prime minister and current
Quartet envoy Tony Blair summed up the position when he declared this week:
"When it comes to security, I'm 100 percent on Israel's side."
During his meeting with Abbas, Obama pledged an additional $400 million for
housing, schools, and business development in Gaza and the West Bank. This
sum is a small fraction of what is required to rebuild the damage done to
the Palestinian territories caused by the Israeli blockade and the criminal
bombardment of Gaza over three weeks in 2008-2009. Moreover, the New York
Times reported that only $70 million was actually new money, and that no
details were provided as to how the money would be distributed in Gaza.
A Hamas spokesman denounced the aid pledge as "cheap publicity", adding,
"This is what prettifies the image of the occupation and allows it to
continue its criminal policies."
The Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week
permitted a limited amount of consumer goods into Gaza, including snack food
and beverages. The move merely highlighted the severity of the blockade. The
British Daily Telegraph reported Tuesday that the Netanyahu administration
was preparing to ease the siege in return for US and international support
for an Israeli rather than international inquiry into the killings of the
nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara. The newspaper cited an
unnamed "Western source close to international discussions with Israel" who
said: "A quid pro quo deal is in the offing."
The Obama administration has played the key role in defusing demands for an
international and independent inquiry into the illegal Israeli assault. It
ensured that only the vaguest language was incorporated into a UN Security
Council resolution calling for an investigation and that no condemnation of
Israel was included. Obama this week again refused to condemn the Israeli
killings, instead declaring that "we were very clear in condemning the acts
that led to this crisis". He referred to the attack on the aid vessel itself
as a "tragedy".
Obama also refused to indicate any support for an international inquiry,
referring instead to the UN Security Council resolution, which favoured a
"credible, transparent investigation that met international standards".
Haaretz today reported that Israel and the US have agreed on the nature of
the Israeli investigative committee and that a public announcement will soon
follow. The body is to be headed by a retired Israeli Supreme Court justice
and include two jurists from the US and Europe. Haaretz reported: "The panel
will be a government-appointed committee but will not be considered an
official government inquiry convened in accordance with the Basic Law on the
Government. Nor will it be a state commission of inquiry."
The commandos involved will not be questioned. The inevitable outcome will
be a whitewash. Netanyahu effectively admitted as much when he declared on
Wednesday in relation to the inquiry: "We know the truth and the people of
Israel know the truth.
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