Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Fallout from Israel's Gaza decision

Israel's decision to label Gaza as an "enemy entity" has backfired, it seems, in more ways than one. Hamas has called it a 'declaration of war'; UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the world's top diplomat, has asked Israel to reverse — for the sake of its image, security, and international law, as well as human rights — what looks to be another big foreign policy mistake.

“There are 1.4 million people in Gaza, including the old, the young and the sick, who are already suffering from the impact of prolonged closure,” he said. “They should not be punished for the unacceptable actions of militants and extremists.”

The statement noted that the United Nations has broad humanitarian responsibilities and is mandated to provide assistance to and meet the humanitarian needs of civilians in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Mr. Ban added that “the continued indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza into Israel is unacceptable and I deplore it. I call for it to stop immediately. I understand Israel’s security concerns over this matter.”

UN officials have expressed concern repeatedly in recent months that the closure of border crossings and other restrictions in Gaza have cut exports and forced factories to shut, leaving tens of thousands of Palestinians in the territory without jobs or income.

As I said in my earlier post, it's time for Hamas to take initative, too. And why hasn't there been much progress — even superficial progress — with diplomacy between the less anti-Israel Abbas and the Israeli government? Since his new emergency government was made earlier this summer, not much seems to have happened. Even with Hamas out of the picture, closed off in Gaza as Abbas' Fatah controls the West Bank, things don't seem to be moving along. Maybe Israel could focus more of its energy (positive energy) on Abbas and let Hamas hurt itself instead of giving the party more fuel for its popularity.

If it weren't for diplomatic moves like the one Israel made today, I bet Hamas would have already lost popularity. It would have lost the main reason for its existence: to pester and 'destroy' the 'Zionist entity': Israel. If the Palestinian people were not given so many reasons to dislike Israel, Hamas would loose support; and without Israel fighting back, it would probably implode, at least a bit.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has sucked in the attention and meddling of so many foreign powers, and has altered the political and economic composition of the Middle East for decades now. It has had a great and negative effect on international relations and the people of the region. Perhaps it's time for Israel to no longer punish Palestinian civilians, but work with those willing to work towards a peaceful solution to one of the biggest long-term conflicts of our time.

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