When will the economic blockade of Gaza end?

Robert Wright writes: President Obama and Bibi Netanyahu are on the same page when it comes to the justification for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. Netanyahu: “No country in the world would agree to a situation in which its population lives under a constant missile threat.” Obama: “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.”

It’s true that if, say, Canada were lobbing missiles into the US, the US wouldn’t tolerate it. But here’s another thing the US wouldn’t tolerate: If Canada imposed a crippling economic blockade, denying America the import of essential goods and hugely restricting American exports. That would be taken as an act of war, and America would if necessary respond with force–by, perhaps, lobbing missiles into Canada.

This is the situation Gaza has faced for years: a crippling economic blockade imposed by Israel. Under international pressure, Israel has relaxed the import restrictions, but even so such basic things as cement, gravel, and steel are prohibited from entering Gaza. The rationale is that these items are “dual use” and could be put to military ends. But this logic doesn’t explain the most devastating part of the blockade–the severe restrictions on Gaza’s exports.

Gazans can’t export anything to anyone by sea or air, and there are extensive constraints on what they can export by land. They can’t even sell things to their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank. [Continue reading...]

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