Biden’s pier for Gaza is a hollow gesture that will change almost nothing

Jonathan Cook, 8 March 2024

The US President and the Democratic party are betting voters are dumb enough to fall for this charade. Please don’t prove them right.

A few observations on President Biden’s building of a “temporary pier” – or what his officials are grandly calling a “port” – to get aid into Gaza:

1. Though no one is mentioning it, Biden is actually violating Israel’s 17-year blockade of Gaza with his plan. Gaza doesn’t have a sea port, or an airport, because Israel, its occupier, has long banned it from having either.

Israel barred anything getting into Gaza that didn’t come through the land crossings it controls. Israel stopped international aid flotillas, often violently, from reaching Gaza to bring in medicine. The blockade also created a captive market for Israel’s own poor-quality goods, like damaged fruit and veg, and allowed Israel to skim off money at the land crossings that should have gone to the Palestinians in fees and duties.

2. It will take many weeks for the US to build this pier off-shore and get it up and running. Why the delay? Because every western capital, including the United States, has supported the blockade for the past 17 years.

The siege of Gaza caused gradual malnutrition among the enclave’s children, rather the the current rapid starvation. By helping Israel inflict collective punishment on Gaza for all those years, the US and Europe were complicit in a gross and enduring violation of international law, even before the current genocide.

With his pier, Biden isn’t reversing that long-standing collusion in a crime against humanity. He has stressed it will be temporary. In other words, it will be back to business in Gaza as usual afterwards: any children who survive will once again be allowed to starve in slow-motion, at a rate that doesn’t register with the establishment media and put pressure on Washington to be seen to be doing something.

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3. Biden could get aid into Gaza much faster than by building a pier, if he wanted to. He could simply insist that Israel let aid trucks through the land crossings, and threaten it with serious repercussions should it fail to comply. He could threaten to withhold the US bombs he is sending to kill more children in Gaza. Or he could threaten to cut off the billions in military aid Washington sends to Israel every year. Or he could threaten to refuse to cast a US veto to protect Israel from diplomatic fallout at the United Nations. He could do any of that and more, but he chooses not to.

4. Even after Biden buys Israel a few more weeks to further aggressively starve Palestinians in Gaza, while we wait for his temporary pier to be completed, nothing may actually change in practice. Israel will still get to carry out the same checks it currently does at the land crossings but instead in Lanarca, Cyprus, where the aid will be loaded on to ships. In other words, Israel will still be able to create the same interminable hold-ups using “security concerns” as the pretext.

5. Biden isn’t changing course – temporarily – because he suddenly cares about the people, or even the children, of Gaza. They have been suffering in their open-air prison, to varying degrees, for decades. If he had cared, he would have done something to end that suffering after he became president. If he had done something then, October 7 might never have happened, and all those lives lost on both sides – lives continuing to be lost on the Palestinian side every few minutes – might have been saved.

And if he really cared, he wouldn’t have helped Israel in its efforts to destroy UNRWA, the UN relief agency for Palestinians and a vital lifeline for Gaza, by freezing its funding, based on unevidenced claims against the agency by Israel.

No, Biden doesn’t care about Palestinian suffering, or about the fact that, while he’s been busy eating ice cream, many, many tens of thousands of children have been murdered, maimed or orphaned – and the rest starved. He cares about the polls. His timetable for helping Palestinians is being strictly dictated by the schedule of the presidential election. He needs to look like Gaza’s saviour when Democrats are deciding who they are voting for.

He and the Democratic party are betting voters are dumb enough to fall for this charade. Please don’t prove them right.

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