Israel Calls On War Criminal Blair as Economy Crashes
In Gaza, life is desperate. It was before last summers massacre, but now just a lot worse. For Israel, matters are taking a turn for the worse as continued isolation from international trade, tourism and investment continues to deteriorate.
In terms of international and economic relations, Israel has lost many friends – indeed, it has created many new enemies. The world, fully connected to each other in a digital age, watched in helpless horror as Israel launched “Operation Protective Edge,” a massive assault on the Gaza Strip. For 51 days, Israel bombarded Gaza with more than 6,000 airstrikes.
The UN Human Rights Council concluded that Israel, and to a much lesser extent, Palestinian armed groups, had likely committed violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, some constituting war crimes. “The scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, according to the UN commission.
It documented the deaths of 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians (299 women and 551 children), and the injuring of 11,231 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children. Ten percent of the children suffered a permanent disability as a result. More than 1,500 Gazan children were orphaned. On the Israeli side, six civilians died and up to 1,600 were injured.
The commission determined, “The impact of the hostilities in Gaza cannot be assessed separately from the blockade imposed by Israel.” That blockade and the military operation “have led to a protection crisis and chronic, widespread and systematic violations of human rights, first and foremost the rights to life and to security, but also to health, housing, education and many others.” The commission quoted the UN secretary general’s characterization of Israel’s blockade of Gaza as “a continuing collective penalty against the population of Gaza.”
Not satisfied, Israel then deliberately shut off the water supply, the most basic of resources required for human life. It is itself, a humanitarian crime. Water, a key part of Israel’s occupation with the Palestinian territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza) is used as a constant life and death resource – a weapon of war.
Many companies and indeed countries now refuse to do business with Israel. Economically, the tide has turned against her. Despite hopes for a recovery in incoming tourism in Israel after the Gaza war, the crisis is only getting worse with a 28% drop in tourists’ hotel stays in the first quarter of 2015 and still falling. According to estimates, the industry has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars.
There was a 40 per cent reduction in trade in Israeli cities since Israel began its military operation in Gaza, Israel’s Channel Two reported, far worse than the fall in trade in Greece.
Worse still, Foreign direct investment in Israel has completely collapsed by an eye-watering 46% according to a 2015 World Investment Report issued in June by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
The report, shows “that only €5.7bn was invested into the country in 2014 in comparison with €10.5bn in 2013, a decrease of €4.8bn, or 46%. Israel’s FDI in other countries also decreased by 15%, from €4.2bn in in 2013 to €3.5bn last year.
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United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”, Richard A. Falk, in his 2012 report to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) recommended that “businesses highlighted in the report – as well as the many other businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise – should be boycotted until they bring their operations into line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards.” He specifically named a number of global corporations. At a news conference Falk said: “The focus on business activities is partly an expression of frustration about the inability to obtain compliance with these fundamental legal obligations of Israel and the ineffectiveness of the U.N. efforts to condemn settlement expansion.”
Most of these companies have continued their profit seeking endeavours irrespective of human suffering but many more have not.
Since the founding of Israel in 1948, the country has faced a variety of threats—from an attack by Egypt and Syria during the 1973 war to suicide bombings in nightclubs and cafés in the 1990s and 2000s. Today, roughly a year after the war in Gaza, the crowded coastal strip is quiet, but Israel’s security seems more precarious than ever. Despite the recent nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers—or perhaps because of it—many Israelis fear Iran will acquire nuclear weapons. Closer to home, ISIS militants (and their proxies) have closed in on Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria.
In the last 40 years, Israel has trusted the United States to protect it, and Israel’s enemies have known that an all-out assault on her would be fruitless because the U.S. military would step in. But now the relationship between the Israeli government and the Obama administration is near breaking point, and tensions in the Middle East just continue to intensify. At this moment, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu no longer trusts Barack Obama to do what is right for Israel, and it is an open secret that Obama pretty much despises Netanyahu.
The end result, as some politicians have warned is that there has been a surge of Israeli’s seeking EU membership. One in every eight Israeli citizens now owns an EU passport. The population of Israel is 8.1 million. Roughly half can trace their lineage back to Europe and although 7,500 have returned due to anti-semitic concerns, one million could leave at the drop of a hat.
Netanyahu in now under extreme pressure to do something about the crashing economy, terrorism threats and political isolation that will see an ever increasing number of its younger inhabitants leaving the country.
To that end, last Sunday, a senior adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Yasin Aktay, said that there will be a truce between The Gaza-based Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) and the Israeli occupation authorities, regarding lifting the blockade on Gaza.
“Gaza is heading towards a comprehensive agreement on the issue of lifting the blockade and opening the [border] crossings in a long-term ceasefire deal with Israel,” Aktay said.
“The issue was discussed during [Hamas chief] Khaled Meshaal’s visit to Ankara last week,” he added, noting that Meshaal discussed the detail of an agreement mediated by former British prime minister and Middle East Quartet envoy Tony Blair over two meetings spanning 6 weeks.
According to Al-Hayat, the Arabic-language daily, under the deal Isreal would lift its blockade of Gaza and allow the establishment of a naval corridor between Cyprus and Gaza. In return, Hamas would agree to a long-term ceasefire lasting as much as 10 years. Clearly, this is a plan hatched by economic failure.
With Tony Blair involved in the negotiations, failure is on the cards. Blair, labelled a ‘standing joke‘ with ‘no credibility’ whatsoever internationally is likely to talk seriously only to those sides that pay him. Almost eight years after his appointment, there were no accomplishments to point to, amid an ugly rupture in Palestinian-Israeli relations and a humanitarian crisis and stalled rebuilding effort in the Gaza Strip. But then, Blair was not being paid as a peace envoy.
Gaza is already on its knees. The World Bank report “Seeing is Believing – Poverty in the Palestinian Territories” makes sobering reading. Large swathes of the territory have succumbed to Israeli will with poverty recorded in some areas in the West Bank at 83%.
Israel’s economy is going down the toilet as well. Perhaps, out of sheer desperation the two sides will talk sense – but it will have nothing to do with a war criminal from London dressed in fine hand made suits paid for by the misery and suffering of millions.