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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid