Israel Can Let the Lights Go Out over Gaza

June 19 2017

In April, in order to punish Hamas for refusing to pay taxes, the Palestinian Authority (PA) decided to stop supplying the Gaza Strip with fuel for its sole power plant. The PA then also ceased its long-time custom of paying for 40 percent of the electricity Gaza imports from Israel. Unsurprisingly, Hamas has agreed neither to start paying its taxes nor to start paying for its own power imports. Israel, after supplying the electricity free of charge for six weeks, has now announced that it will pull the plug. Efraim Inbar comments:

The Hamas leadership in Gaza has threatened Israel with “an explosion” if it does not supply electricity to Gaza at the expense of Israeli taxpayers. Blackmail is, of course, part of the Hamas repertoire. . . .

Voices in Israel and abroad are advocating “moderation”—meaning capitulation—and insisting that Israel has no interest in an escalation. While Israel naturally prefers quiet along its borders, giving in to Hamas’s demands and granting it a victory will only lead to further demands. Supplying electricity to Gaza in exchange for a promise that Gazans refrain from shooting at Israeli civilians is no different from paying protection money to the Mafia.

There is no strategic or moral reason why Israel should supply free electricity to Gaza. While Israel does not desire escalation, it has no reason to fear it. . . .

Hamas exploits the suffering of Gazans to extract humanitarian aid and sympathy for their cause. But Gazans cannot be exempted from responsibility for the consequences of Hamas’s actions.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority

If Handled Correctly, the Quarrel between Qatar and Its Neighbors Presents an Opportunity

June 29 2017

Last week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt sent Qatar a list of demands, some quite extravagant, as preconditions for the restoration of relations. The U.S., John Hannah argues, must get these countries to temper some of their demands, especially because America has a crucial airbase in Qatar, even while helping them to curb some of the Gulf emirate’s bad behavior:

The fact is that among the thirteen demands contained in the Saudi-led list are several items that, properly reformulated, Washington should absolutely be insisting on if it’s serious about winning the war against jihadism. That includes an end to Qatari support for the radical Islamist agenda across the region—politically, financially, militarily, and ideologically (read: a dramatic revamping of Al Jazeera’s systematic campaigns of Islamist incitement and regional subversion). No more safe haven for U.S.-designated terrorists or operatives from extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban [and Hamas] that seek to undermine key U.S. partners and overturn the region’s American-led order.

[Other musts include a] curtailment in Qatar’s dalliance with the Iranians to the bare minimum necessary to safeguard Doha’s vital economic equities—[the two countries share the world’s largest natural-gas reserve]—while forgoing any significant military or intelligence ties; reversing the decision to let an Islamist-leaning, America-bashing Turkey deploy several thousand troops to the Arabian Peninsula for the first time since the Ottoman Empire’s demise; and a strict but fair-minded monitoring regime that ensures Qatar’s commitments are actually implemented and sustained.

All of these changes are self-evidently in U.S. interests. All of them can be culled from the Saudi-led list of demands and appropriately recast by a serious mediation effort. This crisis presents a unique opportunity to achieve many of them and score a seminal victory for the United States in its battle against radical Islamism. The Trump administration should not let it go to waste. . . .

The longer the crisis drags on, [however], the greater the risks that bad actors will be able to take advantage. An extended, all-consuming conflict that leaves critical U.S. partners preoccupied with battling each other rather than Iran and other common adversaries is not a scenario that’s likely to favor U.S. interests over time.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror