Wednesday, June 02, 2010

From Hope to Hopelessness

The conclusions are impossible to ignore: Continued occupation and blockade of Palestine will be destructive for Israel in the long run. Israel politics has fundamentally changed compared to the Israel many sympathised with in previous decades and who longed to measure up to western standards. Last and most important; American and European authorities must awaken from their apathy and force normal supply lines to a couple of million extremely vulnerable Palestine’s in Gaza and the West Bank. The Middle East doesn't need more investigation reports. Israel and the Palestine need an international leadership who can force the region out of the spiral of violence.

A continuation of the current development will lead to new and bigger confrontations. Continued occupation, blockade and colonization of occupied land around Jerusalem and West bank will be perceived as such an intolerable provocation in and outside the Arabic countries that in the long run will undermine the security for the whole region - including Israel.

A first step to break the Gaza isolation could be a sea based corridor direct to Gaza from Cyprus that UN, together with USA and EU, can overlook the security and content of. Similar corridors can be organised on the land border crossings from Egypt to Israel. This way the security of Israel will be safeguarded because American and European inspectors can stop smuggling of rockets and other weapons.

UN suggested such a corridor to the Israeli minister of defence in 2006. EU have already had border inspectors at the border crossings, but they never got any responsibility by Israel.

It is not true that the current Israeli border regime ensures the needs in Gaza. UN's relief agency UNRWA can document that under half of the needs of population are met - even in good months. Israel has for years used closing of borders as collective punishment every time extreme groups have tried to do their terror. No government in any state, not even Israel, is able to avoid all violence at any time from its varying population.

The Israel historian Tom Segevs had a gloomy analysis of Israeli politics at a talk in Oslo this week: "You must not believe that Israel is a country that will live by a western standard. Israeli politicians have stopped believing we can live in peace with our neighbours. My country is fundamentally changed. The public in most countries are worried for the existence of the Palestinians. There aren't ordinary people in Israel."

Many who through the times have worked for peace in the region have replaced their hope with hopelessness and deep despair. Palestinian extreme groups like Hamas and Islamic jihad has contributed their part to undermine hopes for the future. But Israel has time and time again systematically assisted extremists on Palestinian side by bombing vital civilian infrastructure. Moderate and unpolitical aid workers give up and escapes Gaza.

The situation increases the desperation in the region, and a will to use militant violence - especially among young people who feel they are in a seemingly impossible situation.

The text was extracted, amended and freely translated from an article in the largest Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten on June 1st 2010. Author of the full article is Jan Egeland who is the Director of The Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

"Imagine there's no heaven; it's easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today ...

Imagine there's no countries; it isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace...."

[John Lennon, "Imagine"]