Foreign pressure worked in forcing Israel to partially life its blockade of Gaza and its Hamas leadership. Now President Obama knows that more pressure can help make progress on peace talks.
An inkling of hope for Middle East peace may be one result of Thursday’s decision by Israel to ease its three-year-old blockade of basic goods for the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.
The hope lies not so much in a slightly better life for the poor Gazans – who are nearly totally dependent on aid. Rather, the world can note that this decision was forced upon the Israeli government after its botched May 31 raid on an aid ship bound for the tiny strip of Palestinian land between Egypt and Israel.
Israel’s actions toward the Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank, such as its expansion of Jewish settlements, continue to isolate the country and to hinder peace talks. They also create problems for the United States in the Arab and Muslim world. After the raid that left nine people dead, the US joined up with Europe, the United Nations, and Russia (“the Quartet”) to open talks with Israel on easing the blockade.