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Gaza Grief

01/31/2008

I am not enthusiastic about the army of "analysts" who repeat themselves incessantly, saying the same things on every occasion. However, the truth is, that despite all the recent commotion, nothing has changed in the Gaza strip situation since I wrote It's the Gaza strip, Stupid and Gaza Gimmix. Hamas control of Gaza sits on across the road to peace like a giant roadblock. Each party to the conflict is exploiting it for their own interests, and nobody is interested in any of the solutions that might work, precisely because they might work.

If the Hamas are removed from Gaza then the Israeli government has lost their excuse for lack of progress in negotiations, provided that the Palestinian Authority succeeds in stopping terror in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, for its part, will have lost the excuse that it can't comply with the roadmap because it doesn't control Gaza, and it cannot make concessions because of pressure from Hamas extremists.

Israel has a right to defend itself against the rain of Qassam rockets on Sderot and other towns. But it is evident that whatever Israel did until now was not effective in any way in stopping the Qassam rockets. At the same time, those who mindlessly and raucously call for an "end to the siege of Gaza" are not offering a solution. The European Union can "end the siege" any time it pleases by returning its monitors to Rafa. Egypt could "end the siege" by assuming responsibility for Gaza. The UN could "end the siege of Gaza" by assuming responsibility for it. The poverty of Gaza and the misery of the refugees, of which we are all aware, and which Daoud Kuttab claims is responsible for the Qassam rockets, could be ended by resettling the refugees elsewhere. It may be true, as he writes, that there are people in Gaza who support peace, and that "punishing Gaza only harms those backing peace." But raining Qassam rockets on Sderot also harms those backing peace. Believe me, Daoud Kuttab, there are many people in Sderot who want peace. Maybe you think the three year old children who are killed and maimed by these rockets are all warmongers, but do you seriously hold them responsible for those views? And what about Carlos Chavez, a volunteer from Ecuador, who was gunned down by Palestinian snipers at Kibbutz Eyn Hashlosha?

It is obvious to anyone who cares to check that the "humanitarian crisis in Gaza was manufactured in large part by the Hamas and magnified by its apologists. The Gaza electric plant supplies less than a quarter of the electricity in Gaza. Over 75% is supplied by Egypt and Israel. Apparently, the plant was not out of fuel when Hamas pulled the switch. Most of the claims about Gaza have the same credibility as this one made in the Boston Globe and elsewhere by Eyad Sarraj and Sara Roy:

...Gaza daily requires 680,000 tons of flour to feed its population...

They are claiming that each Gazan must have over 400 KG of flour every day - nearly a thousand pounds of flour a day for each person in Gaza! It is amazing the editors of the Boston Globe lent credibility to such a claim, and it is indicative of the nature of the "humanitarian crisis."

Hamas advocates and their apologists do not present any reasonable solution to resolving the problem of Gaza. The solution of "talking to Hamas" advocated among others by Chaim Oron, who should know better, is not a solution. It might bring quiet for a few months, and it might even bring about the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. But as Oron understands that Hamas's goal remains the destruction of Israel, it is certain that in a few months the problem will be back in a new and more intractable form. Moreover, cutting a deal with Hamas will legitimize Hamas, and will effectively pull the rug out from under Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian authority, thereby putting an end to any hopes for peace. The Hamas will have further proof that terror and violence achieve results, and that can only breed more terror and more violence. That is not to say that Israel is not now or has not in the past conducted clandestine negotiations with Hamas, or that it might not conduct more open ones in the future. Just because it is a bad idea, it has a good chance of being tried, and we need not assume that Israel is always going to put the interests of the PNA/PLO and the peace process above other interests. There are assuredly those in the Israeli government from whom a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority would be a great boon. Israel could then claim fact, that there is no peace partner, and would be relieved of the politically unpopular need to give up territory or make other concessions to the Palestinians.

At present there are no good offers on the table. The least bad idea that has a chance of being accepted, perhaps, is the offer of the Palestinian Authority to take control of the Gaza crossings. If this can be effected with the cooperation of the EU monitors, it might provide some hope for a solution. In the best of all possible worlds, it would lead to PNA control of Gaza and accelerated progress toward peace. However, we don't live in the best of all possible worlds. We live in the Middle East. PA control of the Gaza crossings can also be a trap for the Palestinian Authority. If they try to stop the smuggling of arms and money, they will be accused of "betraying" the Palestinian cause, and if they don't make efforts to stop the smuggling and control the rockets, the Israelis will point out that they are not fulfilling their roadmap obligations.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000669.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 5 comments

Clearly Chaim Oron is only looking for a tactical arrangement with Hamas to end or at least curtail the attacks from Gaza. So where's the harm? His eyes are wide open and he states that he has no long-term expectations from such a dialogue:

"I do not believe in diplomatic negotiations with Hamas. As someone who called 30 years ago for talks with the PLO terror group, I can say that Hamas is different. We are not talking about a national organization where there is a chance of reconciling its aspiration and ours. We are talking about a fundamentalist group that views terrorism as a goal and a path.

"On the other hand, when we are talking about lifting the Qassam horror threatening the children of the western Negev and securing the release of Gilad Shalit, there is no other way aside from a short-term target-specific dialogue with Hamas. Talks on a ceasefire do not guarantee a long-term solution. Such truce would not bring quiet for many years in and of itself, yet it is the most effective, most logical way to bring quiet now and save our citizens in Sderot and area communities."

Posted by Ralph Seliger @ 02/01/2008 03:58 AM CST

There seem to be a few contradictions here. First of all, how would Israel cutting a deal with Hamas "legitimize" that organisation (or undermine Fatah) in the eyes of Palestinians? More likely the opposite. And the "not giving in to terror" argument is the same one formerly used by the right about negotiations with the PLO.

I think assuming that Hamas will never recognize Israel is an irrational assessment - history is full of more profound turnarounds. But even if we do make that assumption, the only way to dislodge Hamas is for Palestinians to lose faith in them, and this article does not suggest how that might be achieved.

Wouldn't a better idea than all this hand-wringing be to try and look for constructive solutions? There seems precious little actual Arab/Jew dialogue occurring on this site nowadays.

Posted by Spike @ 02/06/2008 02:48 PM CST

the rockets are the pals defending themselves against the continuation invasion of palestine by israeli settlements.

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:15 PM CST

or the rockets are the pals defending themselves from zionist terrorists who stole their land in 1948.

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:16 PM CST

do the pals have a right to defend themselves, just as the israelis do?

Posted by scottsoperson @ 03/22/2008 09:17 PM CST


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