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Friday, June 15, 2012

UN tells Israel it must buy Gaza goods

You might think that it is the right of any nation not to buy goods from its neighbors.

Especially if those neighbors happen to be enemies.

It would be difficult to imagine, for example, that the UN would insist that the United States must buy goods from Cuba, or that South Korea must buy vegetables from North Korea.

However, when it comes to Israel, things are much different.

The UN's OCHA just came out with a factsheet of statistics from the Gaza Strip on this fifth anniversary of Israel's blockade in the wake of the Hamas takeover of the sector. Among the cherry-picked facts is this one:
In 2011 less than one truckload of goods per day exited Gaza, less than 3% the average amount of exports during the first half of 2007.
We've seen these statistics before. But what is not mentioned as often is this, from an OCHA report last year:
Since 2007, Israel has exceptionally allowed the export of a minimal amount of strawberries, flowers, peppers and tomatoes from Gaza to markets in Europe. While this is welcome, economic recovery can only occur if there is a significant rise in the volume and type of exports from Gaza to all available markets, including Israel and transfers to the West Bank and, which historically accounted for over 80 percent of Gaza’s exports.

I don't have the breakdown of what percentage of goods exported from Gaza before the Hamas coup went to Israel and how much went to the West Bank, but almost certainly the vast majority went to Israel itself.

In other words, the majority of the decline in Gaza exports is because Israel doesn't want to buy Gaza goods.

Yet the UN is insisting that Israel must turn back the clock and start consuming tomatoes and peppers from Gaza!

OCHA can argue that Israel can help increase the number of goods exported to the West Bank and Europe, as well as Arab countries. And in fact Israel has been slowly but steadily working to do just that over the past couple of years. But the major market for Gaza goods has been Israel, and to blame Israel for not wanting to import Gaza goods anymore is essentially to take away Israel's ability to decide on its own economic and political policies, which is quite different than the"humanitarianism" that is OCHA's supposed focus. To demand that Israel buy Gaza goods against its will and policies is to delegitimize Israel itself.

Once again we see Israel is treated differently than every other country by the UN.