As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Aid For Gaza

You want to know what will make the United States a global leader again? Moves like this. Granted, US provides the aid to Israel that supports the bombs and guns that destroyed Gaza in the first place, which gives us the responsibility to step up. In the future, we should rethink the consequences of that aid. But helping Gaza rebuild just makes sense. At $900 million dollars, this is ten times the amount that the Bush Administration earmarked for NGOs to work to rebuild Gaza in December.

There is one troubling component, that money will be set aside for the Palestinian Authority but not for Hamas, a punitive, naked effort to increase Fatah's standing amongst the population, one that has been battered by the invasion into Gaza. Because this appropriation has to go through Congress, there isn't much of another way, though I'd prefer it all go to NGOs. And there are additional issues:

But even if the bulk of the money goes to Gaza, it will do little good unless Israel first opens the border crossing into the territory, said Daniel Levy, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation, a research organization in Washington.

“It’s a good effort, but the money can’t be spent unless materials can get into Gaza,” Mr. Levy said. “The next step is opening the border crossings, and that requires more than just signing a check.”

J Street concurs with Levy's analysis:

J Street is encouraged by reports that the Administration will pledge $900 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza reconstruction to ease the ever deepening humanitarian crisis and to enable the civilian population to rebuild in the wake of recent Israeli military operations.

This aid is critical to urgently addressing the widening humanitarian crisis in Gaza and for creating a situation in which a sustainable ceasefire can take hold. It is, however, only a first step. In order to leverage the aid’s impact, we must address the underlying causes of the humanitarian crisis in order to achieve a broader ceasefire. This means opening border crossings for all materials necessary for reconstruction, as well as bringing an end to arms smuggling and rocket attacks on Israel.

If the White House can get the crossings open, they will have earned some trust among the Palestinians. Of course, with Netanyahu looming as the new Israeli Prime Minister, it's difficult to see where any of this goes.

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