Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Israel Lifts Blockade. Hooray For Peaceful International Pressure!

If you haven't heard by now, the constant and thorough pressure brought upon Israel in the last few weeks since the flotilla incident has resulted in a humanitarian victory. Israel will no longer be stopping food and supplies for the emaciated and compacted slice of sand that is known as the Gaza Strip.

From the New York Times:
JERUSALEM — Bowing to worldwide pressure and condemnation, Israel on Sunday formally announced an eased blockade of Gaza that could significantly expand the flow of goods overland into the impoverished coastal Palestinian enclave, isolated by the Israelis for three years.

The announcement, made by the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, came three weeks after a deadly Israeli naval commando raid that thwarted a breach of the blockade by a flotilla of pro-Palestinian aid activists. That raid outraged much of the world and became a catalyst for a serious re-examination by Israel of its policy toward Gaza, which is governed by the militant anti-Israeli group Hamas and is home to 1.5 million Palestinians.
The blockade started shortly after Hamas took power, a method of Israeli "diplomacy" that tried to shame Gazans for electing the terrorist group. Unfortunately it only served as a tool that legitimized Hamas in the eyes of those they govern.

Between the election that saw the decline of Fatah in the Strip and the deaths of Turkish citizens during the raid on the flotilla, the blockade was largely ignored by the international community. Even though plenty of aid groups and NGOs tried their best to plead with the Israeli government to lift the blockade, it took the persistent shaming for Netanyahu to finally relent.

It goes to show that sometimes neither war or stealth shuttle diplomacy can solve crises in the Middle East. Sometimes you just need to get creative in how you make people realize their mistakes in treating other people.