Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will announce at the Gaza donor’s conference next week that the US will give $900 million to help rebuild the Gaza Strip. That is about a billion dollars.
It is obvious why Clinton is making this gesture. The United States’s name is mud in much of the Muslim world because Washington supported to the hilt Ehud Olmert’s brutal assault on the people and civilian infrastructure of the Gaza Strip. Gaza was already a blockaded and abused slum before the war, where 15% of the children were undernourished. Bush urged Olmert on, and Obama has been silent.
So at least the US can spend some money to restore to the Gazans the basic prerequisites for a decent life.
Moreover, the US has increasing competition for influence in the area. The Gulf oil states are planning out the rebuilding of Gaza, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar have already pledged $1.25 billion. Qatar stole thunder in Lebanon last spring when it negotiated a peace deal between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government that brought Hizbullah into the government. The Saudis have been trying to bring Fatah and Hamas together. The US has been irrelevant, because under Bush Washington was just a ventriloquist dummy for the Israeli Rightwing. You can only have leverage as a good faith broker if you aren’t completely identified with one side of a dispute.
So people are asking where the US government is going to get a billion dollars to give to the Gazans. That’s easy. The US should take it out of the over $3 billion a year it gives to Israel. Israel aggressively launched that war, which it planned out for six months beforehand, even while Olmert was ostensibly indirectly negotiating a truce with Hamas. The war was fruitless and accomplished none of its goals. There is no reason for the US government to be giving the Israelis, who have a per capita income of $17,000 a year, money in the first place. But it certainly makes no sense to reward them for bad behavior, especially given that we are living through the great crash and incipient depression of 2009.
Amnesty International is going further and urging that the UN institute a weapons ban on both Israel and the militant Palestinian factions.
The Gaza War was so clearly an unequal contest that involved total war on Palestinian civilians that Canada’s biggest union of public employees has called for a boycott of Israel.
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