The Jordan Times (Editorial)
February 11, 2010 - 1:00am

Israeli officials say crossings into Gaza for goods and trade will remain closed for as long as Hamas remains in power in the Strip.

Such words clearly constitute blackmail of the worst kind, but are not in essence that different from the position of the international community, which has acquiesced in Israel’s siege of the Gaza Strip even though Hamas has demonstrably ended its rocket fire.

Israel’s unashamed admission that it is willfully and deliberately starving 1.5 million people for political ends shows two things.

First, it shows that the international community is as guilty as Israel in prolonging the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza and, second, it serves as a reminder to Palestinians themselves that never before has the need for a united front been stronger or more urgent.

Make no mistake about it: Gaza is sinking into a mire of economic hardship that will result in at least one generation lost to the consequences of de-development and squalour, whether that is the diminishment of an individual’s capability to look after himself and contribute to those around him or the lure of a fanaticism unbound by any ability to imagine or see another way of life.

This is the Gaza that the world is complicit in creating, one that cannot be saved. And this is not, unequivocally not, the fault of Hamas. It is the fault of those who enforce and support a siege that seals Gaza not only from any chance of prosperity and a dignified life, but from any exchange with the outside world so necessary to the cultural and social development of any place.

Palestinians must be aware of the danger, however. Officials from both Hamas and Fateh proclaim, over and over again, their desire for unity, but no action is taken and it is becoming more and more clear that they really prefer the status quo because neither is willing to listen to the justified criticisms of the other.

Before Palestinians reach unity, they cannot expect the outside world to help them. However, Arab countries have a unique responsibility to help Palestinians reach a unity agreement. Either Arab countries force unity on the Palestinians or they rally to the side of those on both sides that are advocating unity.

Sadly, those voices are disappearing. Palestinians have to have confidence that they have shared aims and that they are all striving in their own ways to reach those goals. Once that happens, everything else is detail.

It is the duty of the Arab world to help them.


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