News / Middle East

US Consults Allies About Gaza Blockade

The United States is consulting with its allies over proposals to lift the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip following the raid by commandoes on an aid flotilla that led to the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey. U.S. President Barack Obama says the current situation is inherently unstable and the humanitarian condition in Gaza needs to substantially improve.

Shortly after the Israeli commando raid protesters throughout Europe and the Middle East took to the streets to demand the end of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.

While the U.S. has not joined international calls to condemn Israel, American diplomats are talking with partners in the region and Europe to ease the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

During a recent meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas President Obama called the current situation unsustainable.

"It seems to me that we should be able to take what has been a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to create a situation where lives in Gaza are actually directly improved," he said.

Israel closed the border with Gaza after Hamas seized power in the territory in 2007. Israel wants to keep militants from obtaining weapons such as rockets that have been fired on civilians inside the Jewish state.

The Israeli raid on the aid flotilla sparked an outcry and put intense international attention on the situation in Gaza, a narrow coastal strip with 1.5 million Palestinians.

"The international consensus about maintaining this closure of Gaza has broken down badly and it is no longer sustainable," said Michele Dunn, editor of the Arab Reform Bulletin at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Some Middle East analysts say it is no secret that the Gaza blockade has not significantly weakened Hamas, which Israel and the United States say is an Iranian-backed terrorist organization.

During the flotilla raid eight of those killed were Turks and one was a Turkish-American.

The incident severely strained the bond between Turkey and Israel, which until recently had enjoyed relatively warm relations.

Nathan Brown, a professor and scholar on Arab politics at George Washington University, says ending the blockade in Gaza is now more difficult.

"So if you are going to end it, you end it on your terms and your time or you wait until there is a crisis," said Brown. "Right now it is a propaganda victory for Hamas. Turkish public opinion is now directly engaged. It is a far messier situation."

Israel had hoped that negotiations on what Palestinians call the siege of Gaza would result in the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by Gaza-based militants in a cross-border raid into Israel in 2006.

Middle East analysts say the international community will now need to negotiate an agreement to ease the blockade of Gaza.

"As long as Gilad Shalit is there it is going to be very difficult for any Israeli government to suddenly say ok, we are going to change our policy. So we have to come up with some kind of a global deal," said Henri Barkey, a professor at Lehigh University.

Analysts say there is no internationally recognized authority at the border of Gaza and whatever steps are taken to provide security will have to involve the Palestinian Authority reconciling or at least cooperating with Hamas.

"It would really be a mistake, and I am sure the United States would not go in this direction, to give Hamas that authority on its own," said Michele Dunn of Carnegie.

The attack on the aid flotilla came as American-mediated indirect talks between the Israelis and Palestinians are getting underway.

The talks are a top foreign policy priority for President Obama.

"In the long run the only real way to solve this problem is to make sure that we've got a Palestinian state side by side with an Israel that is secure," said Mr. Obama. "And so we're going to be dealing with these short-term problems, but we also have to keep our eye on the horizon and recognize that it's that long-term issue that has to be focused on."

The United States has expressed sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, but insists any solution to the blockade must also meet Israel's security needs.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More