So, Israel has agreed to ease the blockade on Gaza.  Mr Netanyahu now expects the international community to ‘work towards the immediate release of Gilad Shalit’, the Israeli soldier ‘kidnapped’ by Hamas.  Tony Blair regards the announcement as a ‘significant step forward’ and also calls for the immediate release of Shalit. ‘This will allow us to make even further progress’.

Linking the easing of the blockade to the release of Shalit sounds to me like typical Israeli PR.   ‘Look, we’ve made a sacrifice; you should too”.   I agree, let’s get Shalit released; but let’s not get sucked in to assuming there’s a link.  Israel has been forced into this ‘easing’ reluctantly (it took the cabinet 2 days) because of international condemnation (excepting US) of the violence of their attack on unarmed humanitarians carrying cement, books and medical supplies.  The blockade was not put in place because Shalit was ‘captured’, but because the Palestinians had the temerity to elect Hamas as their government.

So, here’s some linking:  what happened to half the PA cabinet & many elected MP’s following the elections of 2006?  Administrative detention, that’s what.  Many are still detained by Israel on the say so of a ‘senior military commander’. Their offence?  who knows: many haven’t been charged.

At any one time there may be 10,000 Palestinians held by Israel without trial and without charge.  As at April 2010 Israel held 335 children in detention (source DCI).  UK has little to boast about with our treatment of children of asylum seekers, but I’m critical of that policy too.

Let’s get everyone released who has not been convicted in open court of a serious criminal offence – that would be progress, Mr Blair.  And, in your capacity as ‘Quarter Representative’  keep your eye on what continues to happen in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

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