Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his colleagues are doing their best to put a pretty face on an ugly situation. After nearly three weeks of deliberations, Netanyahu and his government caved in to massive US pressure to ease, if not end, Israel's blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza.
On Sunday the government announced that all economic sanctions on Gaza will be immediately lifted. Henceforth, Hamas-controlled Gaza will have an effectively open economic border with Israel. Israel will only prohibit the transfer of military material. Even dual-use items, like cement, will be allowed in if international officials claim that they are to be used in their humanitarian projects.
Netanyahu and his colleagues argue that these new concessions have now given Israel the international legitimacy it needs to maintain its naval blockade of the Gaza coast. But this is untrue. Even as he welcomed Netanyahu's latest capitulation, US President Barack Obama made clear that he expects Israel to continue making unreciprocated concessions to Hamas.
Following the government's announcement, the White House declared, "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."
In plain English that means that the administration doesn't trust Israel. It will escalate its pressure on Israel by among other things, pressuring it to provide members of the illegal Hamas regime in Gaza greater access to Judea and Samaria.
AS IF anticipating its next capitulation, government spokesmen told the media that in addition to ending economic sanctions on Gaza, Israel is now considering permitting the EU to station inspectors at its land crossings into Gaza. That is, Israel is considering a move that will constitute a first step towards surrendering its sovereign control over its borders.
The economic sanctions the government is now cancelling were not simply legal, they were required by international law. Binding UN Security Council resolution 1373 requires states and non-state actors to deny support of any kind to terrorist organizations. And here, in a bid to win international "legitimacy" for its lawful blockade of Gaza, Israel has bowed to US pressure to unlawfully facilitate the economic prosperity of an area controlled by an illegal terrorist organization.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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