Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Israel presents its new spokesman: Tony Blair

 How wonderful that Didi Remez follows the Hebrew press and from time to time translates items like this one - together with the warning that this is NOT satire. Good for him, I nearly got confused. The teaser of the article from Tuesdays Maariv reads: Quartet envoy at the forefront of  the Israeli hasbara. And the headline: Israel presents: spokesman Blair.
After this introduction the text itself is almost superfluous, but here it is nevertheless - thanks to Didi's blog Coteret :
It turns out that Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair was the person who in fact presented to the international media the change in the policy of the Israeli government on the Gaza blockade. This was decided in coordination with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. And what was the prime minister’s contribution to helping Israeli PR efforts? He made do with a short statement to the press that he gave at the Likud faction meeting, and another laconic statement in English that was given to the foreign media.
Indeed, since two evenings ago, Blair has been going from one television studio to the next; he gave six interviews in two days, he handled tough questions from interviewers and he is trying to employ his great experience to enlist support in international public opinion for the relaxing of the blockade and for Israel’s new policy.
Netanyahu’s aides explained that the most important arena was that of the media and international public opinion. It was therefore decided that it would be better to have Blair present the important change in the government’s policy since he is considered objective and of international stature and since the decision about relaxing the blockade was made in coordination with him.
Blair met in Israel yesterday with a series of public figures and politicians, among them Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom, Deputy Prime Minister and Intelligence Affairs Minister Dan Meridor and Opposition Chairwoman Tzippi Livni. Earlier he met in Ramallah with PA Chairman Abu Mazen and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
 Blair of international stature? Well, I could buy that. But objective? Read what he told the Jerusalem Post on Monday:
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,' Blair said.'If we imple ment 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,' he urged in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
So it's better to shelve all those attempts to break the blockade and cooperate with the Israelis, is what he councils us. And that long before we could even get an idea whether the Israelis are going to let building materials through, will make exports possible or - maybe the most important of all - okay the import of raw materials and the flow of people, both of which are needed for the industry in Gaza to start a process of recovery.
Blair a mediator? Blair objective? As objective and trustworthy probably as when he told British parliament in 2002 that the invasion of Iraq could not be avoided because of it's possession of weapons of mass destruction. Then he was Bush's man, now he serves Netanyahu. Blair the hasbarist.


Israeli human rights group B’Tselem today (21 June, TP) stated that the Security Cabinet decision on Gaza represents the first baby step in the right direction of bringing Israel's policy in line with its obligations. Though the implementation of the policy remains to be seen, any relaxation of the stringent restrictions on imports is to be welcomed. However, this cannot be the end of the conversation. The goal is not to improve humanitarian assistance but to obviate it.
Gaza needs to rebuild a self-sustaining economy, which requires import not only of foodstuff and commercial goods but also raw materials for manufacturing, industry and agriculture. It also requires a regulated system for exports, which addresses security concerns, as well as ability for people to travel in and out of Gaza for all functions of daily life. - (My Italics, TP.)

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