Sunday, June 20, 2010

The flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip might not have arrived safely in Gaza, but they did accomplish something. Most of the world has now come out in opposition to Israel's Gaza blockade, and Israel has already begun to ease the blockade.

The calls to end the blockade have been widespread. The EU has called for Israel to lift the blockade, as has the Arab League, and the Red Cross. The US has increased pressure on the Netanyahu government to lift the blockade.

Israel is easing the blockade, promising to make "adjustments" in the policy. These adjustments will be considered by the security cabinet, but are likely to be passed. The new policy would allow "all goods except for weapons and materials that can be used to make them."

But the world shouldn't be too eager to declare the Gaza blockade over, or the Flotilla a success. The language used by Israel, of "easing" the blockade rather than ending it, has been seen by the Arab press as the Israeli version of putting lipstick on a pig. Clearly, taking steps to "ease" the blockade is different than lifting it. And the details of the new Israeli policy remain to be seen. So-called "dual-use" items will still be banned, with Israel to define what constitutes such an item. An overly broad definition of dual-use would still have a severe effect on the people of the Gaza Strip.

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