Report: Israel ready to relax Gaza blockade?

That was fast. As Krauthammer says in his op-ed tomorrow, “the whole point of this relentless international campaign is to deprive Israel of any legitimate form of self-defense.” They’re not allowed to occupy Lebanon or Gaza to keep weapons out of their enemies’ hands; they’re not allowed to wage war against Hezbollah or Hamas even after they withdraw; and now they’re not allowed to cut off Hamas’s supply routes even while providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians. The only “legitimate” option is surrender. Lesson learned: Provocations work.

While still insisting that its blockade of Gaza is essential to its security, the Israeli government is now shifting its position, “exploring new ways” of allowing goods to reach the coastal enclave, an Israeli official said Thursday…

Israel’s Channel 2 television news reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had proposed to Tony Blair, the international envoy of the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers, that an international naval force inspect future aid ships bound for Gaza.

Judging by how well international ground forces did in Lebanon to keep weapons out of Hezbollah’s hands, Hamas should have a gigantic arsenal in, oh, three years or so. That’s assuming the Times’s report on Bibi’s plan is correct, though. According to the Jerusalem Post, he might have something different in mind:

The navy is gearing up for the possible interception over the weekend of the MV Rachel Corrie protest ship, as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Thursday he was considering letting more goods into Gaza

But under pressure from the US, Netanyahu is now willing to reconsider his policy of closing the Gaza land passages to all but humanitarian supplies…

The cargo path to Gaza would remain the same. Ships would not be allowed to dock in Gaza and would instead be diverted, as they are now, to Ashdod.

There, the cargo would be inspected and then sent to Gaza by land, as is presently done. The new policy, if approved, would increase the variety and amount of goods.

No international force, in other words, but merely a relaxation of some of the rules that currently prohibit certain innocuous items (e.g., musical instruments) from entering Gaza. That’s certainly preferable to the first option, but I don’t know what it’ll solve. The point of the flotilla wasn’t to sneak aid to Gazans but to challenge Israeli authority with an eye to using international outrage afterwards to get the blockade lifted completely. That would give the local Islamist regimes an easily demagogue-able political victory and would hopefully open Gaza’s port to all sorts of special “aid” from Iran. So long as Israel remains in control of the coast, even with relaxed rules about what can be brought in, they’re going to face new provocations. But don’t take my word for it:

When asked if the activists [aboard the next boat to approach Gaza] would try to break the blockade or would agree to a compromise that would allow them to unload the cargo under Israeli supervision, Kysia said, “We don’t recognize Israel’s authority to impose a blockade on the Gaza Strip or to impose their power on the Gaza Strip,” adding that the organization didn’t want to be accomplices to Israel’s policy of “putting Palestinians on a diet.”

No doubt Netanyahu realizes all this; I assume the new concession is aimed at simply throwing the west a bone to turn down the heat and to hopefully deny Turkey a pretext to escalate the situation further by sending its warships to escort the next “aid” boat. But all they’re doing here is buying time until the next demand comes for Israel to stop defending itself, which, per the JPost, could be as soon as this weekend when the MV Rachel Corrie (yes, really) steams towards the coast. Stay tuned.