Sunday, June 20, 2010
Israel says they will lift blockade—did the Freedom Flotilla succeed?
by Larry Geller
Up until the flotilla movement the world seemingly ignored the plight of the Palestinian people. Imprisoned in their own country, with Israeli settlements carving the West Bank up into Bantustans, they endured the murders of 1400+ people while the US and other countries at most fidgeted in front of their TV sets. For sure, freedom was not about to be bestowed upon them by Israel (or the UN) as a gift.
The sacrifice of the flotilla victims has made a difference, but it is too early to say that the blockade will be removed. All we have is words, and since they are the words of the long-time oppressor, they should be understood only with caution.
Israel plans to ease its blockade of Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday following an Israeli Security Cabinet meeting, a step commended by major powers and brushed off by a Palestinian organization and government.
"The government position is that Israel should open all the crossings of Gaza in accordance with 2005 AMA agreement, and end the closure regime," Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib told CNN. [CNN, Israel easing blockade of Gaza 'except for military items', 6/20/2010]
The work of the flotilla movement is far from over, and it will require the support of European countries to move forward since Obama is still immobilized in front of his TV set. This support may be forthcoming:
Separately, Germany criticized Israeli officials for denying Dirk Niebel, German minister of economic cooperation and development, entry into Gaza.
"The goal of the federal government remains the complete end of the blockade Gaza Strip," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a Sunday statement. "That is not only Germany's stance but also that of our partners in the European Union."
Full sovereignty ultimately requires that an independent Palestine be able to manage its own defense. This certainly requires that Israel and its neighbors learn to live not only in peace with each other, but in a mutually beneficial relationship. Getting there will not be quick or easy, but isn’t it about time that everyone got started on the process?
In a sense, the flotilla could appear to be a gift, since it was carried out seemingly independently of either faction in Palestinian politics, Hamas and Fatah. Looking more deeply, however, it has been the persistence of the resistance movement that made the flotilla possible, even if Israel has tried to eradicate any public traces of resistance.
Those who are truly on the sidelines are first of all the USA, which has delayed, rather than facilitated, any peace efforts by sticking to Israel like a Siamese twin, and Israel’s Arab neighbors who have done little to achieve peace over the years. The USA looks weakest to much of the world because it hasn’t even lifted a finger to wag at Israel after the point-blank murder of one of its citizens by the Israeli commandos.
So bottom line, there will be no gifts, the struggle for peace in the mid-East and for the independence of Palestine remains a work in progress.