The spin campaign to distract us from the fact that the Israeli military killed nine civilians on an humanitarian ship in international waters has picked up steam as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for his “make up” session with Obama today.

First we have the announcement of the new Israeli list of items blocked from transport to Gaza.

Ignoring the fact that this blockade continues the Israeli collective punishment of all residents of Gaza, we’re clearly supposed to be grateful – and the White House has made it clear it is – for this shift. In terms of consumer goods, the change is positive – no more banning of coriander or chocolate, toys and refrigerators will be allowed in, etc. Of course, the change to the list is not the same as actual consistent shipments of these items. Israel controls not only which items are allowed in but also the pace of those shipments and may or may not allow in adequate supplies over time. And with the full scale lockdown on the Gazan economy with manufacturing and farming sectors destroyed, disposable income for such consumer purchases is hard to come by.

Often forgotten is the fact that many of the items imported to Gaza are Israeli-produced making the “easing” a bonus for Israeli corporate interests while the limitations on Gazan businesses and harassment of Gazan farmers limit local production.

Still not allowed are many essential items – construction materials will only be allowed into Gaza if approved by the Palestinian Authority (who have their own reasons to keep a thumb on the Gazan population which elected their opponents) and requisitioned for UN and similar international projects.

In addition to all “vessels” and the expected arms and explosives, the lists include:

  • Ball bearings
  • Lathes
  • Epoxy and Vinyl Ester resins;
  • Water purification solutions at concentrations higher than 11%.
  • Allowed in only with PA approval and only for approved projects are:

  • Natural and Quarry aggregates and all varieties of gravel
  • Ready concrete
  • Precast concrete elements and products
  • Steel elements and/or construction products
  • Iron for foundations and columns, at any diameter (including wielded steel nets)
  • Steel cables of any width
  • Forms for construction elements (plastics or galvanized iron)
  • Industrialized forms for casting concrete
  • Plastic or composite beams more than 4 mm thick
  • Thermal isolation materials and products
  • Blocs (at any width) – Concrete; Silicate; Ytong or its equivalent; or gypsum
  • Materials and products for sealing structures
  • Asphalt and its components (Bitumen, emulsion) in aggregate or packaged
  • Steel elements or framing products for construction
  • Cast concrete elements and products for drainage over 1 m in diameter
  • Precast units and sea-borne containers
  • Vehicles, excluding private cars and including 4X4 vehicles and other categories of motor vehicles liable to be used in terror activities
  • Lumber beams and boards more than 2 cm thick, (liable to be used in “offensive” tunneling aimed at penetrating Israeli territory), unless incorporated in finished products (cont’d.)
  • Second, we have the announcement that the Israeli self-investigation of the murders on the Mavi Mamara will have expanded powers. The three-member panel (with two international observers of limited credibility and no voting rights) will now “be able to invite witnesses who will testify on an oath.”

    Unnoticed by the U.S. media is the fact that:

    Army operations will still only be checked by an army inquiry and not within any other framework.

    And while the limitations of this investigation – from the very idea that the criminal gets to hold the investigation to the specific makeup of the panel and the lack of authority to even “investigate” the military who carried out the attack – goes unmentioned, the White House has been putting pressure on Turkey to applaud it.

    At the same time, Israeli preparations for a major building boom – on Palestinian land – in September which marks the end of the temporary freeze the Obama administration lobbied for as more window dressing for the ongoing pretense that Israel will someday grant Palestinians their own country:

    At least 2,700 new housing units are scheduled to be built in the West Bank as soon as the current settlement freeze ends this September, Haaretz has learned.

    Regional councils across the West Bank are preparing for continued settlement construction ahead of September 27, when the current build freeze is scheduled to end.

    .. Regional council head Gershon Mesika sent a letter instructing all of the settlements in its jurisdiction to prepare to “grant building permits, to wrap up project planning and to transfer them to the engineering department for inspection.”

    “Time is short and there is much to be done,” Mesika wrote in his letter. “We want to welcome September prepared for final committee permits in order to immediately issue those permits as soon as the [freeze] period lapses, and to allow the commencement of construction.”

    And while even more Palestinian land is seized, Defense Minister Ehud Barak is encouraging Netanyahu to present Obama with:

    a clear initiative that discusses drawing a border in Israel in a way that settlement blocs along the border will remain in our hands and have a solid Jewish majority for generations, but in a way that will enable the establishment of an independent and demilitarized Palestinian state.

    Given how little remains that has not been seized – in violation of even the agreements Israel has signed – the size and shape of any such Palestinian state becomes absurd.

    And for folks who believe that the “realists” in our own Defense Department might push Obama towards less Israel-centric position, don’t miss Phil Weiss’ latest on how Gen. David Petraeus was spinning to Max Boot to make sure no one thought he was less than loyal to the AIPAC cause.