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So much for Arab solidarity

Two short news items indicate perfectly the hypocrisy of Arab politics at the moment, and the rather pathetic expectations placed on Arab governments by the people of Palestine. Egypt's Foreign Minister has released a statement after a meeting with a UN envoy in which the two men call for building materials to be allowed in to Gaza; to help this process, Mr. Ahmed Aboul Gheit wants some "guidance" from the international community. In the meantime, the same Egyptian government of which Mr. Aboul Gheit is a part, is building a steel wall on the border with Gaza to cut off the tunnels which form "the lifeline" for Gaza's besieged population. Not content with that. Mr. Aboul Gheit's government has been using "poisonous gas" and raw sewage pumped into the tunnels to kill the people working underground. What sort of guidance does Egypt's Foreign Minister want? Who knows for sure, but it's being written in the blood of Palestinians suffering under the blockade imposed by Israel with which the Egyptian government collaborates.

And news from Gaza announces that the Arab Parliamentary Union (APU) is to send a delegation to Gaza, probably embarrassed by the fact that delegations of European parliamentarians have made a number of visits over the past 12 months, the most recent just last weekend. Rather forlornly, the government in Gaza believes that this "indicates the depth of genuine Arab solidarity" with the Palestinians. Please forgive my cynicism but – and take a deep breath before you read the next bit – the APU has asked the Egyptian Parliament – yes, the Egyptians – to organise the visit, during which they will be able to "indicate the depth of their genuine Arab solidarity" with the Palestinians. I would like to guess that it won't be as deep as the steel wall they are constructing.


One thing Arab politicians are good at is talking, and making sure that diplomatic niceties are observed so that the government-controlled newspapers have good photographs of President This meeting King That in first-class surroundings, smiling for the cameras, talking about holding talks that might, if they can agree on an agenda, lead to more talks to talk about Arab and Islamic unity, after which they might talk about agreeing to meet again to push for further talks. While all of this is going on, the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and the refugees in their squalid camps in Jordan and Lebanon are rotting away.

Arab solidarity? To paraphrase Gandhi when he was asked about British/Western civilisation, "I think it would be a good idea."

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AfricaCommentary & AnalysisEgyptMiddle EastPalestine
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