After the "cease-fire" announced in Cairo by Hillary Clinton, a young man from Gaza, a twenty-year old called Anwar Qudaih, went to celebrate the event in the "buffer zone", the 300 metre-wide strip of Palestinian territory where his family used to farm the land. But when he drew close to the barbed wire, an Israeli soldier shot him in the mouth.

First victim of the "cease-fire", he must be added to the 170 killed, at least a third of them women and children, and more than 1,000 wounded in bomb attacks, which have also caused 300 million dollars worth of damage.

In order for the "cease-fire" to last, "the rocket attacks on Israel must stop", stressed Clinton, laying the blame on the Palestinians for the present crisis. Washington’s plan was clear from the start – to enable Israel to give the Palestinians "a lesson", and to use the engagement as a test for regional war, while ensuring that the operation doesn’t spread or last too long. Prolongation would interfere with US/NATO strategy, which is concentrating its forces on two objectives - Syria and Iran.

It’s in this context that the new partnership with Egypt comes in, since according to Ms. Clinton, Egypt is once again beginning to re-assume "the role as the cornerstone of regional stability and peace which it played for years", implying even during the thirty years of the Moubarak regime. President Morsi, praised by Clinton for his "personal leadership" in the establishment of the agreement, has profited from the situation by concentrating power into his own hands. In compensation, Washington is asking him to excercise tighter control over the frontier with Gaza, in order to reinforce the embargo.

But the objective of the partnership goes well beyond that - it aims to integrate Egypt, which is dependent on US military aid and loans from the IMF and the Gulf monarchies, into the group of alliances built by Washington as part of its strategy in the Middle East and North Africa.

The role of Qatar in this picture is significant – after a secret visit to Israel (although it was documented with a video), Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani went to Gaza and promised help, then met with President Morsi in Cairo, where he gave him 10 million dollars to be used for the medical treatment of Palestinians who were injured by Israeli bombs. In this way, he presents himself as a supporter of the Palestinian and Arab cause, while in fact he supports the USA/NATO strategy, as he did when he sent special forces and weapons to Libya in 2011, and again today in Syria.

A similar two-faced political game is being played by Turkish prime minister Erdogan, who, while condemning Israel and announcing an upcoming solidarity visit to Gaza, is in fact collaborating with Israel in the encirclement and disintegration of Syria. And by demanding the installation of Patriot missiles along the frontier, he is enabling NATO to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.

The same political operations apply to the Italian government, who, while reinforcing its military ties with Israel by permitting them to use Sardinia for the training of their fighter-bombers, promises aid to Palestinian companies who want to develop local crafts.

So while Israeli warships, backed up by NATO marine forces (including the Italians), continue to blockade the rich Palestinian natural gas deposits in the territorial waters of Gaza, the Palestinians will be able to eke out a living by carving wooden souvenirs. Just like the inhabitants of the "Indian reserves" in the United States.

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Photo: Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, 21 November 2012.
©Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv

Pete Kimberley
Il Manifesto (Italy)