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CNN: Israel Easing Blockade of Gaza 'Except For Military Items'


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Looks like the affects of the flotilla is beginning to have the desire effects. Now just to make sure that Israel follows through, and to make sure that the folks in Gaza don't shoot themselves in the foot.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/06/20/israel.gaza/index.html?hpt=T2

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.

Tony Blair, envoy for the Middle East Quartet -- the U.S., Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- said in a statement Israel would publish a list of weapons and war items not permitted into Gaza rather than those permitted, and allow full access of civilian goods.

The Security Cabinet said last week it planned to revamp its policy, paving the way for a vote Sunday.

"This comes as a partial manner due to international pressure but does not meet the minimal needs of the people in Gaza to live in dignity," said Hanan Ashrawi, member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee.

Ashraw said the steps were an improvement but the blockade should be completely lifted and the Israeli occupation ended.

Israel's announcement comes three weeks after ships in Israel's naval blockade sparred with a flotilla of aid ships heading to Gaza. Nine Turkish activists were killed in the incident, which drew international criticism.

Israel's military stopped the flotilla and boarded the ships. Israel says its troops were attacked with knives, metal poles and other objects on one of the boats, and the flotilla passengers say they were fired upon without provocation.

The latest step is among six the Israeli government will begin implementing as soon as possible, including expanding operations at the existing operating land crossings and streamlining the permitting process of international aid groups the government recognizes, the prime minister said.

The naval blockade of Gaza remains in place, and military officials will continue to inspect goods on Gaza-bound ships, Netanyahu said. "Israel will continue to facilitate the expeditious inspection and delivery of goods bound for Gaza through the port of Ashdod."

Blair, who met with Netanyahu on Sunday, said the move should radically change the exchange of goods in the area.

"Plainly there are still issues to be addressed and the test of course will be not what is said, but what is done," Blair said in a statement. "But I welcome strongly this statement of policy and the Office of the Quartet Representative looks forward to working closely with the Government of Israel and other partners on its implementation."

The White House also commended the policy, saying in a statement it will improve conditions for Palestinians in Gaza while preventing the entry of weapons.

"We will work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the Quartet and other international partners to ensure these arrangements are implemented as quickly and effectively as possible and to explore additional ways to improve the situation in Gaza, including greater freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza and the West Bank," the statement said. "There is more to be done, and the president looks forward to discussing this new policy, and additional steps, with Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to Washington on July 6."

"Over these coming months we therefore need: to improve life in Gaza; continue the growth in the West Bank and the PA development of its institutions for statehood; and ensure that the indirect talks, led by Senator Mitchell, turn into full direct negotiations," Blair said.

The White House said, "there is no need for unnecessary confrontations, and we call on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza."

Israel, the United States and Blair all called for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who has been held in Gaza for nearly four years. "We will redouble our efforts to secure his freedom," Blair said.

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."

Yigal Palmor, spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, said Neibel was not allowed to enter Gaza because "Hamas uses visits of this kind for purposes of manipulation and misrepresentation of international legitimacy and normal relations with the international community."

Israel's policy of denying high-ranking diplomats access to Gaza -- in place since last year's Israeli incursion into Gaza -- has angered European governments which finance various programs in Gaza. Israel made an exception earlier this year, when it allowed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Baroness Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief, to visit Gaza.

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Seemingly a positive development. The proof will be when we can see what is on the list of "war items"

You can kill a man with a blanket and a milk bottle, and in the right hands, baby food bombs can be lethal! A single can of Gerber strained peas contains enough destructive force to level a building in Tel Aviv.

~Bang

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Have rockets ever stopped being lobbed into Israeli territory from Gaza?

I suspect that there is some kind of insinuation that either a) the blockade was preventing rockets from getting in or B) that somehow the only issue that people have with Israel is the blockade itself.

This development while a step...is the tiniest of baby steps at best.

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Pretty sure your blockade will still prevent rockets from being delivered. So this change will likely have absolutely no impact on the current rate of rocket launches

Hamas has thousands of rockets... and they bring them in through tunnels from Egypt. The blockade hasn't really curtained the rocketfire from Gaza. Israel still catches about one ever day on average over the given year... Least as recently as 2009 they did. I don't believe things changed in 2010.

http://current.com/groups/terrorism/90387787_statistics-of-kassam-rocket-and-mortar-fire-from-the-gaza-strip.htm

Year ------- No. of rockets-------No. of Mortar bombs

2001 ------- 4 ------- 245

2002 ------- 35 ------- 257

2003 ------- 155 ------- 265

2004 ------- 281 ------- 876

2005 ------- 179, 108 until the withdrawal, 71 afterwards ------- 238

2006 ------- 946 ------- 22

2007 ------- 896, 421 until the Hamas takeover, 475 afterwards ------- 749

2008 ------- 1,571, 571 rockets and 205 mortar shells during Operation Cast Lead ------- 1,531

2009 ------- 481, Jan 1 - June 2 ------- 183

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I suspect that there is some kind of insinuation that either a) the blockade was preventing rockets from getting in or B) that somehow the only issue that people have with Israel is the blockade itself.

This development while a step...is the tiniest of baby steps at best.

Actually my point was

(a.) the blockade was useless in stopping the rocket fire, if that was it's purpose it failed. Hamas doesn't suffer from a shortage of rockets or a shortage of guns. Based on what was bared by the blockade, Israel had an additional purpose in the blockade. It was a punitive response on a population which elected a terorist organization as their representatives. A terrorist organization which continually day in and day out targets Israelis.

(b.) Lot's of people have issues both valid and invalid with Israel. I think the blockade began to become one valid issue which captured a lot of peoples attention. Especially after the heavy handed way Israel dealt with the freedom flotila two weeks ago. When Israel almost comes to blows with an important NATO country like Turkey, things have to change. I think that's the lesson learned here.

Now If you are thinking the crisis is over. Not so fast.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/138164

US, Israel Warships in Suez May Be Prelude to Faceoff with Iran

Egypt allowed at least one Israeli and 11 American warships to pass through the Suez Canal as an Iranian flotilla approaches Gaza. Egypt closed the canal to protect the ships with thousands of soldiers, according to the British-based Arabic language newspaper Al Quds al-Arabi.

One day prior to the report on Saturday, Voice of Israel government radio reported that the Egyptian government denied an Israeli request not to allow the Iranian flotilla to use the Suez Canal to reach Gaza, in violation of the Israeli sea embargo on the Hamas-controlled area.

International agreements require Egypt to keep the Suez open even for warships, but the armada, led by the USS Truman with 5,000 sailors and marines, was the largest in years. Egypt closed the canal to fishing and other boats as the armada moved through the strategic passageway that connects the Red and Mediterranean Seas.

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Allowing full access to civilian goods is a fractional difference? :doh:

If that's a fractional difference then thank goodness for fractional differences.

Blockade is still there manned by Israeli's so yes: Fractionally different.

Some non-military goods to All non-military goods (For now).

Subject to change if rocket fire increases.

Jordon/Iran have a need for the rockets to increase so you can bet on it.

--------------------

United Nations should be manning the blockade and the borders as they created this.

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Blockade is still there manned by Israeli's so yes: Fractionally different.

I think reasonable people can understand why Israel wants to blockade military weapons from Gaza. It's the school books, medical supplies, infrastructure, and other civilian goods which have captured the imagination of the world.

Some non-military goods to All non-military goods (For now).

Subject to change if rocket fire increases.

Hamas has been calling for a cease fire for years. maybe they'll get it this time. Israel has declined, because a cease fire just gives Hamas time to re-arm and re-fortify. Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel. They don't want peace. They just want time to reposition themselves to kill more Israelis.

Jordon/Iran have a need for the rockets to increase so you can bet on it.

Jordan and Egypt are the two arab nations who have peace treaties and friendly relations with Israel. I think you were thinking Iran and Syria? Iran will fight Israel to the last Palistinian or Syrian. They fund this mess and are safely tucked away about 1000 miles distant from Israeli reprocussions. So they are more than willing to shoot their mouths off and play the antagonist.

Syria really doesn't want trouble with Israel. They are more than happy to allow other folks to make trouble with Israel like Hezbollah. Syria has had the snott kicked out of them ever decade since the 1940's by Israel. They don't want any one on one attention from Israel if they can help it.

United Nations should be manning the blockade and the borders as they created this.

How did the UN "create this"? You do know the UN has no standing army, so what you are saying is the United States should be manning the blockade?

I hope we don't, and I don't think we will.

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Pretty sure your blockade will still prevent rockets from being delivered. So this change will likely have absolutely no impact on the current rate of rocket launches
Actually my point was

(a.) the blockade was useless in stopping the rocket fire, if that was it's purpose it failed. Hamas doesn't suffer from a shortage of rockets or a shortage of guns. Based on what was bared by the blockade, Israel had an additional purpose in the blockade. It was a punitive response on a population which elected a terorist organization as their representatives. A terrorist organization which continually day in and day out targets Israelis.

(b.) Lot's of people have issues both valid and invalid with Israel. I think the blockade began to become one valid issue which captured a lot of peoples attention. Especially after the heavy handed way Israel dealt with the freedom flotila two weeks ago. When Israel almost comes to blows with an important NATO country like Turkey, things have to change. I think that's the lesson learned here.

Now If you are thinking the crisis is over. Not so fast.

I said this change would have no impact on the rate of rocket fire.

I also said this was the tiniest of steps.

I think you have just said "actually, my point is the same as yours".

No disagreement.

Also and article out today that the internal Israeli investigation found issues with the way the flotilla raid. I doubt they found those issues because they are anti-semetic

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You know what would be a real step?

If the people of Ramallah could actually go to the next town over without needing a visa

Hear Hear...... Or if Israel simple treated the secular Palestinians (Moslem, Christian, whatever) inside their boarders the same as she treats Jews anywhere in the world.

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Also and article out today that the internal Israeli investigation found issues with the way the flotilla raid. I doubt they found those issues because they are anti-semetic

I looked it up for another thread. The United States has conducted eight or nine blockades since the 1960's. We've stopped literally hundreds of ships. We've never killed 10 unarmed guys before....

You can believe the very professional, very well trained Israeli special forces screwed up, failed to plan, or wasn't adiquately prepared. I have a very hard time believing any of that. I think those guys were told to send a message to every would be peace nic or activist eager to take a whack at the Israel blockade. Do so at the risk of your own life. Don't get between Israeli policy and a terrorist organization.

I think that's the message Israel thought they had sent. It's just not the message the rest of the world recieved. Now Israel's trying to say it was all a big mistake... It was a big mistake, but it was a mistake which went significantly higher up the chain of command than anybody on those boats.

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United Nations should be manning the blockade and the borders as they created this.

On this we agree, the only problem is that any decision by the UN that doesn't favor Israel has them screaming Antisemitism. Of course I'm in favor of the UN controlling all of the Palestinian borders, even the areas in Jerusalem and on the rest of the West Bank; but then I'm also in favor of Jerusalem itself being an International zone with no one group controlling it.

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On this we agree, the only problem is that any decision by the UN that doesn't favor Israel has them screaming Antisemitism. Of course I'm in favor of the UN controlling all of the Palestinian borders, even the areas in Jerusalem and on the rest of the West Bank; but then I'm also in favor of Jerusalem itself being an International zone with no one group controlling it.

I don't agree with TheBear that the UN caused this rukus. Not the situation in Gaza or the underlying displaced Palestinian population problem...

I would be strongly against the UN getting involved with warehousing the Palistinian population or contributing in anyway to the sucess of the soluiton Israel has been trying implement there. Separating people from their property by force of arms along religious grounds is as unAmerican as any policy I can think of. I think it's doomed to fail, and I think we should try to limit not expand any support we have with regard to it.

I also would be strongly cautious in putting any UN troops between Israel, the Palestinians, or Hezbollah... History informes us any force put there would likely have to defend themselves from all three parties. It's a thankless, dangerous job.

As for Jerusalem... I don't dislike your solution... But again I'm cautious. The only way peace has any chance in these troubles if for Israeli's and the Palestinians to make hard choices which make none happy but they call can live with. Anything that contributes to that eventuality is helpful... Anything that complicates or postpones that eventuality is not. Thus the UN's assistance with the Jerusalem question only becomes helpful if it's part of a comprehensive implementation of a solution all parties have agreed too, not as some outside intervention or half step towards peace.

We are a long way from that.

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Good for Israel for easing it. The blockade was becoming a PR nightmare for them, and this allows any needed goods to Gaza.

Now, what will Israeli do about the settlements and the other issues which are affecting the road map to a Palestinian state, including the settlements?

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Looks like really good news, to me. No doubt as with almost everything that has ever been done by any government, anywhere, there will be greatly trumpeted disagreements over various minor details. But at least it sounds like good news, from the summary.

Frankly, I'm surprised Israel had the political ability to make this move. I would have expected the Israeli government to need some kind of excuse to justify backing down like this, to their own people.

Props to Israel.

(Looking forward to how things work out, in practice.)

(And, as to having the UN in charge of customs and inspections: I'd bet that a lot of people on ES have me classified as one of those loony, antisemitic, terrorist lovers, and I'd vote against that idea. Israel has a very legitimate reason to blockade weapons into that area, and I would trust neither the UN's impartiality nor it's competency to carry out that mission.)

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