If anyone failed to understand the ever-so-careful language in the Quartet statement issued on Monday [following the Israeli cabinet pronouncements on Sunday] Tony Blair spelled it out perfectly clearly in an interview published in part on Tuesday [the rest is promised for later in the week] with the Jerusalem Post’s David Horovitz and Herb Keinon.
First, a re-cap of a particularly relevant portion of the Quartet statement issued yesterday: The Quartet said it “recognizes that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded, and believes efforts to maintain security while enabling movement and access for Palestinian people and goods are critical. The Quartet commits to work with Israel and the international community to prevent the illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition into Gaza. It urges all those wishing to deliver goods to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into Gaza. The Quartet emphasizes that there is no need for unnecessary confrontations and calls on all parties to act responsibly in meeting the needs of the people of Gaza”.
Now, here is what the Jerusalem Post reported after speaking to Tony Blair:
“Anyone thinking of organizing an aid flotilla for Gaza should instead utilize the legitimate existing land crossings, where Israel is now lifting restrictions on civilian goods, Quartet envoy Tony Blair said on Monday. ‘If we implement this policy so that the things that people are trying to bring in by flotilla you can bring in through the legitimate existing crossings, do it that way’, Blair urged in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. ‘That is the more sensible way to do that’ … Blair, who played a central role in working with the government to reverse the three-year policy of restricting civilian goods entering Gaza, emphatically endorsed the Israeli security concerns that underpin the ongoing naval blockade. ‘Where I divide from some others in the international community is that I think that Israel has got a genuine security concern that it is entitled to meet’, said the former British prime minister. ‘For me, the fact that Israel says, ‘Look, we’re not going to allow things into the [Gaza] seaport, but you can bring them to Ashdod, and we can check them, and then they can come on to Gaza,’ I think that is a reasonable position. What you can’t justify is saying that basic foodstuffs and household items can’t go into Gaza … My argument was and always has been that there is a very clear distinction, the only distinction in the end you can sensibly justify, between the security needs of Israel and [the] daily life [needs of Gazans]’ … Blair said he would now be exploring the possibility of bringing PA forces to help oversee land crossings into Gaza, and restoring the EU’s role at the Rafah crossing. “Improving the conditions of people in Gaza by whatever means is helpful to the overall cause,” he said … (The full interview with Tony Blair will appear in the Post later this week.)” This is reported in the JPost here.
By the way, what does he mean by “the overall cause” ???
And, could somebody please explain how, and on what grounds — given that it continues to insist, in defiance of all evidence the contrary, to that Gaza is no longer Israeli-occupied — Israel can justify its insistence on maintaining absolute ultimate control over everything that goes in and out of the Gaza Strip [except, of course, via the tunnels — a policy, also by the way, that some Palestinians predict, will be coming soon in the West Bank, too]?
Or, is this just a far worse form of occupation — in which many others [starting with the Quartet] are also collaborating?
And one other question: would Tony Blair speak in the same tongue to a Palestinian publication?