Some good news in the Middle East?

June 9, 2010 2:08:11 PM PDT
Maybe out of tragedy can come something positive. Is that what's happening from the ill-fated Israeli raid last week of a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza?

Is that what's happening from the ill-fated Israeli raid last week of a humanitarian aid flotilla bound for Gaza?

Maybe.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Pres. Obama and, perhaps it's just coincidence, but at the same time Israel took something of a first step to soften the worldwide anger over the deadly raid: It's now punching a hole in the Gaza blockade and allowing in potato chips, cookies, spices and some other previously banned food items.

Still not included are cement, steel and other building materials. It's the stuff that a battered society needs to rebuild. And so there are critics who tonight are blasting the move to allow in potato chips as a meaningless olive branch.

It might be, but given the tensions over the decades, and given last week's deadly raid, let's hope it's a first step towards something positive. As for the meeting with the President and Mr. Abbas, the outcome yielded a bonus for the Palestinians: an additional $400 million in aid for the West Bank and Gaza. "We think it is important to reaffirm our commitment to improving the day-to-day lives of ordinary Palestinians," President Obama said seated beside Abbas in the Oval Office.

The money for clean drinking water, new jobs and schools and affordable housing, and for infrastructure, according to the White House.

We'll have the latest from the region, tonight at 11.

And a side note to the conflict: Hezbollah, the paramilitary and Islamic fundamentalist political group based in Lebanon, came out today to salute the "courage" of Helen Thomas, the long-time reporter who was forced to retire this week after her questionable comments about how Jews in Israel should leave and return to Germany and Poland.

Sad enough that the 89-year-old Ms. Thomas ended her otherwise incredible career in this way; to get a shout-out from Hezbollah seems the final indignity.

Also at 11, our N.J. Burkett is in the Gulf of Mexico, reporting on the latest in the oil spill crisis. BP, the giant British oil company, now says that in the past four days it's recaptured more than 57,000 barrels of oil that would have otherwise leaked.

Meanwhile, a new ABC/Washington Post poll shows support for oil drilling in the aftermath of the Gulf mess has declined. 52% of Americans continue to support increased oil drilling in general but that's down from 64% last summer.

Also we're keeping our eye on the fallout from last night's primary election in 13 states, including New Jersey. Turns out the big winner may have been Bill Clinton. In at least 2 races where he campaigned, the candidates won. Pres. Obama did not campaign in those races. I'm just sayin'.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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