Daily life in Gaza improves as Europe debates Palestinian statehoood

World Today

Months after the war, the situation in Gaza is improving. Israel has allowed building materials into Gaza, while Egypt re-opened the Rafah border. CCTV America’s Noor Harazeen reported this story.

Gaza improves as Europe debates statehood

Months after the war, the situation in Gaza is improving.Israel has allowed building materials into Gaza, while Egypt re-opened the Rafah border. CCTV's Noor Harazeen reported this story.

Following a month-long closure, Egyptian authorities decided to re-open the Rafah crossing for two days on Wednesday and Thursday, allowing around 3,000 people currently stuck in Egypt to cross into the Gaza Strip. Despite efforts by Palestinian officials to fully re-open the terminal, it was not confirmed if the Egyptian army will allow Palestinians to leave the besieged coastal enclave during this short period of opening. The Egyptian army closed the Rafah crossing about four weeks ago, citing security concerns, after a terrorist attack in Sinai killed 33 Egyptian army soldiers.

“I came here to welcome my brother, who was stuck in Egypt for the past weeks. He left Gaza two months ago for an injury treatment in an Egyptian hospital. We lost all hope of opening the border, especially that Egypt is imposing a collective punishment policy on us here in Gaza, but here we are waiting him to enter,” Ahmed Saleem, a resident, said. “Thanks goes to the [Palestinian Authority’s] efforts with the Egyptian government.”

In another significant topic dominating sidewalk chats in Palestine, a European parliament vote to recognize Palestine as a state began as part of a new international moves to push the two-state solution forward. Right-wing parties who represent a majority in the European parliament wanted wording that recognition will be declared after Palestinians and Israelis reach a peace agreement.

The vote on the recognition of Palestine was postponed until the December session. France started it’s own parliament debate about it, with Israeli diplomats hoping that the move in France will face opposition — unlike what happened with similar votes in the Spanish, British, Swedish, and Irish parliaments — as President Sarkozy was showing objections. However, such wording would not grant Palestinians their right of self-determination.


European supported for Palestinian statehood

Mounting frustration in Europe over collapsed Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations led to debates and votes in numerous countries for an independent Palestinian state. Although symbolic in nature, they were a signal of support for Palestinian independence and a threat to Israel’s government. CCTV America’s Stepahnie Freid reported from Tel Aviv.

It started with Sweden in late October. The vote for an independent Palestinian state infuriated Israel’s government, making Israel’s ambassador to Sweden was recalled and the country’s foreign minister publicly quipped “Middle East relations are more complicated than assembling a piece of Ikea furniture”.

The show of support didn’t stop at Sweden’s doorstep. Within weeks, numerous other European countries announced that they will follow suit.

The votes, from  Sweden, England, Spain, Ireland, Denmark, France and now the EU, were a show of support for an independent Palestinian state free of Israeli occupation. They are being propelled by exasperation over Israel’s continued settlement building on Israeli occupied Palestinian land and dead-ended peace negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators.

The votes and discussions are symbolic, but they posed enough of a threat to Israel for Israel’s prime minister to pose the rhetorical question: “don’t you have enough to worry about with all the beheadings going on in this region”?

Propelling the momentum, a belief that the recognition, however symbolic, will push a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians. It is certainly adding to mounting pressure on Israel, but the outcome is limited said analysts.

“In the end, you can have a majority of European countries symbolically recognizing a Palestinian state, but the question is will there be embassies, will there be ties and will there even be more pressure on Israel? On the Palestinian street, the concerns are the Israeli presence in the West Bank. Will this pressure and will these moves do anything to shift the reality on the ground?” said a political analyst, Daniel Nisman.

Ahead of an impending EU vote, Israel’s EU ambassador held urgent meetings and briefings with political advisers and European Parliament members this week.

European supported for Palestinian statehood

Mounting frustration in Europe over collapsed Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations led to debates and votes in numerous countries for an independent Palestinian state. Although symbolic in nature, they were a signal of support for Palestinian independence and a threat to Israel's government. CCTV America's Stepahnie Freid reported from Tel Aviv.


Phyllis Bennis from IPS talked about Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations

For more on the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, CCTV America interviewed Phyllis Bennis who directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and U.N. issues for many years.

Phyllis Bennis from IPS talked about Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations

For more on the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations, CCTV America interviewed Phyllis Bennis who directs the New Internationalism Project at IPS. She is also a fellow of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam. She has been a writer, analyst, and activist on Middle East and U.N. issues for many years.