Amir Peretz is beginning to take charge of the Israeli defense ministry. The leader of the Labor party has held the job for a few short weeks and many observers waited with baited breath to see whether he’d bow to the “superior knowledge” of the security establishment and become a puppet of his military advisors; or whether he’d remain true to his principles and moderate IDF and government policies toward the Palestinians. From developments yesterday, it appears he’s decided on the latter course, at least for now.
The Karni crossing has for months been the choke point by which Israel has strangled the entire Palestinian economy. Most commerce, such as there is, travels through it. When it is closed (as it almost always has been for months), the economy comes to a standstill. One of the key reasons why Palestinians and the world see Gaza as a prison is this policy which has closed the crossing. What remains to be seen is whether or not Peretz will allow the security mavens to have their way by closing the crossing again at the first whiff of a supposed terror scare (the reason/excuse Israel’s been using for keeping it permanently shut).
I applaud Peretz’s strong step in reopening Gaza to the outside world. I hope to God that Hamas will realize that this is a gesture of goodwill from one of their few potential allies on the other side. If they allow terror attacks at the crossing they will have only themselves to blame when the gates are locked shut once more.