When unhelpful is the strongest word

It’s interesting that saying somebody’s behaviour is “unhelpful” amounts to hard-hitting condemnation in some people’s books. (Stop stabbing me, that’s unhelpful…).

But, in the highly charged atmosphere of the Israel-Palestine situation, it can be powerful stuff. So, Hillary Clinton saying that Israel’s intention to demolish 88 Palestinian homes in east Jerusalem was (wait for it) “unhelpful” has, actually, got people talking.

On the one hand this is far too mild and cautious for some. Joelsv at Middle East News And Comment has a sarcastic “Wow. If she keeps this up, we might resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict by Friday”. (I would have thought Sunday afternoon might be more realistic Joelsv, but there you go).

Instead, Juan Cole at Informed Comment, is basically supportive of Clinton, but also notes that 88 dwellings pales into insignificance next to the “massive expansion of the squatter population” in the form of intended Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Okay, we can complain that Clinton didn’t go further but unless we expected a revolution in terms of US diplomatic behaviour on Israel-Palestine this was still a step forward. Sure, she’s carrying on with the USA’s dubious policy of supporting Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah while ostracising Hamas, but she also claims to have expressed concern in “numerous settings” to her Israeli hosts about restrictions on the passage of goods into Gaza.

On the day that The Lancet is saying that 10% of Palestinian children have stunted growth I’d have thought it’s vital that political heavyweights like Clinton start putting some pressure on the Israelis over the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza (but not just Gaza).

Almost a year ago to the day, Amnesty and other agencies put out a report showing that the humanitarian situation in Gaza was at its lowest ebb since the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip in 1967. Now, after another year of an almost-total blockade and the small matter of a pulverising conflict, things have – unbelievably – got even worse.

In fact, in the wider context of an already chronic Israel-Palestine situation, I reckon it’s unhelpful of the Israel military to collectively punish 1.5 million people in Gaza with a stifling blockade. Very unhelpful.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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