Jul 19, 2010
Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama met on July 6. At the end of the meeting, Obama renewed his support for the Israeli leader, even congratulating him on relaxing Israel’s blockade on Gaza.
The Israeli government did lift part of the blockade on certain products into the Gaza Strip, which has been under embargo since 2007.
The consequences of this blockade for the Palestinians are tragic. They live in ruins, destruction caused by the Israeli bombing of January 2009. In Gaza, 70% of the population lives on less than two dollars a day. Nine people out of ten depend on food aid from the U.N. More than a year after the bombing, three fourths of the destroyed and damaged infrastructure has not been reconstructed, including 82% of the schools, according to another U.N. report.
The relaxation of the blockade is for food products. But for construction, Israel only authorizes certain projects sponsored by the international community, that is, the main Western powers. As a leader of an Israeli non-profit organization put it: “Nine months was needed for UNRWA (a U.N. agency) to negotiate the entry of truck loads for a real estate project in Khan Younis that was 85% complete. Imagine how many years it would take to negotiate the tens of thousands of truck loads necessary to reconstruct Gaza.”
So this so-called “relaxation” of the blockade is a pathetic measure which has nothing to do with what the Palestinians demand: the total and immediate lifting of the blockade. Obama congratulating Netanyahu makes neither of them apostles of peace.