A modest Washington Post proposal for altering, not ending the Gaza blockade

Today a Washington Post editorial offers a surprisingly sensible solution to the problem of Israel’s Gaza blockade, which is under mounting international condemnation and which the Obama administration calls ‘unsustainable.”

I wonder how long it will take for some pro-Israel groups to blast the proposal as “anti-Israel.”

The Post proposal is simplicity itself: alter the blockade, don’t end it. Focus on guns, ammunition and rockets, not coriander and concrete. Think about actually weakening Hamas instead of strengthening it. Imagine.

“What’s needed is a new regime that addresses the legitimate needs of Palestinians in Gaza without further empowering Hamas and its patron, Iran,” the Post editorialists write.

Simply lifting the blockade and throwing Gaza ports wide open would result in “a repeat of what has happened in southern Lebanon since Israel’s withdrawal: the massive supply of weapons, including medium-range missiles, to Tehran’s client.”

But the current blockade doesn’t just block weapons; it bars the entry of a variety of consumer goods, apparently in the belief that this will politically weaken Hamas – even though there is an abundance of evidence the broad-brush blockade has only STRENGTHENED the group’s hold on Gaza.

The Post likes a proposal by David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who argues that “instead of choosing which goods it allows, Israel should permit all save those it expressly bans on grounds that they can be used for military purposes,” according to the editorial.

Incoming ships would unload at Israeli ports; the Post has no faith in international inspection regimes, which failed miserably in Lebanon.

At the same time, the Post suggests easing Israeli control over the West Bank to undermine any political advantage Hamas might gain from a relaxation of the Gaza blockade.

The editorial concludes with some words for the Gaza protestors.

“The ‘Free Gaza’ organizers contend their aim has been to relieve humanitarian suffering. If that is the case, they should welcome a relaxation of Israel’s controls and end their provocative attempts to ‘break the blockade’ by sea. More such confrontations won’t benefit average Palestinians — only Hamas.”


About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.