Gush Shalom: It is a pity that the government did not take this small positive step at its own initiative

by Adam Keller

Gush Shalom

"It took the killing of nine people at sea and the blackening of Israel's name throughout the world to make the government decide to stop interfering with what the people of Gaza may or may not eat. It apparently would have been too much to expect from PM Netanyahu and his ministers to have taken even such a small positive step at their own initiative - not to be dragged to implementing it by massive external pressure" says the Gush Shalom movement.

"It would, however, be wrong to assume that the government's decision, taken at last, will be the end of the matter. Israeli control over the entry and exit of people and goods from the Gaza Strip is a continuation of the occupation by other means. It would certainly be welcome to see that from now on more trucks will enter the Gaza Strip, loaded with a greater variety of ommodities, and that the Gazans' hard lives will be a bit alleviated. But basically, it is an unsustainable situation that it is the government of Israel which has the power to decide whether trucks would enter Gaza and what goods may be loaded on them. There is an absolute worldwide consensus that the solution for our region is a complete end of the now 43-year old occupation and the establishing of a free and sovereign Palestinian state alongside Israel. This certainly includes an end to Israeli control over the entry to Gaza by land, sea and air, which is a continuation of the occupation.

Under the Oslo Accords, Israel undertook not only to facilitate but to actively promote the creation in Gaza of a deep water port, through which Palestinians could freely import and export in accordance with their economic needs. Israeli warships which continue to blockade the shores of Gaza and make dire threats at any approaching boat are a continuation of the occupation. The European Union proposed an arrangement which would prevent weapons being smuggled on board Gaza-bound boats – a proposal which the Hamas-led Palestinian government is willing to consider but which the government of Israel rejected out of hand. The Palestinian International Airport near Rafah, which was established as part of the Oslo Accords, lies desolate with its runaways ruined following the visit of Israeli bulldozers. That also is a continuation of the occupation. Furthermore, the State of Israel has undertaken a binding obligation to treat the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, and to facilitate safe passage between the two areas. In practice, soldiers on the West Bank are instructed to treat any Gazan they find there as an "illegal immigrant" to be deported. The government of Israel is doing all in its power to separate and disconnect the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and makes use of various military and diplomatic means to sabotage any attempt of reconciliation and compromise between the rival Palestinian governments located in Ramallah and in Gaza. These are futile and dangerous policies, severely damaging to Israel's own future prospects. It is in the supreme interest of us all is to put an end to Israeli occupation and rule, direct and indirect, over the Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It is the occupation which perpetuates the conflict, the hatred and bloodshed, and there is a no chance to end the conflict without ending the occupation.

Being unable to initiate a courageous move to end the occupation, the current government of Israel is doomed to be exposed to mounting global pressure, and to be dragged forward, step by reluctant step.
Contact: Adam Keller, Gush Shalom Spokesperson +972-(0)3-5565804 or +972-(0)54-2340749

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