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The Economic Situation in Gaza Is Far Better Than You’re Being Told

Feb. 12 2018

Just a few weeks ago, the New York Times reported on the risk of famine in the Gaza Strip, echoing commonplace descriptions of the territory as facing utter immiseration, usually blamed on the Israeli “blockade.” Yet a recent report from Al Jazeera (video can be found at the link below) shows that, despite Gaza’s economic problems, such descriptions are very wide of the mark. Tom Gross writes:

[The] Al Jazeera report [shows] footage of the bustling, well-stocked, glitzy shopping malls, the impressive children’s water park, the fancy restaurants, the nice hotels, the crowded food markets, the toy shops brimming with the latest plush toys. . . . And while, of course, there are also many poor people in Gaza—just as there are poor people in London, New York, Washington, Paris, and Tel Aviv—this prosperity among Palestinians is not just for the wealthy. Much of the population enjoys the benefits of it in one way or other. . . .

[U]nlike those people typically seen in European and American media dispatches from Gaza, in the Al Jazeera video almost no Palestinian interviewed even mentions Israel. Instead, they point primarily to the internal Palestinian political rift between Hamas and Fatah as being their main concern. . . .

If the situation in Gaza is as bad as many Western journalists and diplomats claim, then why is Gaza’s life expectancy (74.2 years) now five years higher than the world average? I don’t recall any Western reporter mentioning that life expectancy there is higher than, for example, in neighboring Egypt (73 years). Indeed, life expectancy in Gaza is almost on the same level as wealthy Saudi Arabia, and higher for men than in some parts of Glasgow. . . .

Gaza also has considerable political problems, perhaps less so these days in relation to Israel (which withdrew all its troops and settlers from Gaza over a decade ago) and more because of the poor level of governance by Hamas and the intense Hamas-Fatah rivalry. But Gazans are hardly the worst-off people in the world. Elsewhere in the Middle East, for example in Yemen, millions of people really are at risk of starvation. So why should the U.S. (or European) taxpayer continue to give Gaza quite so much money to the detriment of other people around the world, including America’s own poor?

Read more at Mideast Dispatches

More about: Al Jazeera, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Media, Palestinians, Politics & Current Affairs

Mahmoud Abbas Comes to the UN to Walk away from the Negotiating Table

Feb. 22 2018

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, addressed the United Nations Security Council during one of its regular discussions of the “Palestine question.” He used the opportunity to elaborate on the Palestinians’ “5,000-year history” in the land of Israel, after which he moved on to demand—among other things—that the U.S. reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The editors of the Weekly Standard comment:

It’s convenient for Abbas to suggest a condition to which he knows the United States won’t accede. It allows him to do what he does best—walk away from the table. Which is what he did on Tuesday, literally. After his speech, Abbas and his coterie of bureaucrats walked out of the council chamber, snubbing the next two speakers, the Israeli ambassador Danny Danon and the U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley, . . . [in order to have his] photograph taken with the Belgian foreign minister.

Abbas has neither the power nor the will to make peace. It’s the perennial problem afflicting Palestinian leadership. If he compromises on the alleged “right of return”—the chimerical idea that Palestinians can re-occupy the lands from which they [or their ancestors] fled, in effect obliterating the Israeli state—he will be deposed by political adversaries. Thus his contradictory strategy: to prolong his pageantry in international forums such as the UN, and to fashion himself a “moderate” even as he finances and incites terror. He seems to believe time is on his side. But it’s not. He’s eighty-two. While he continues his performative intransigence, he further immiserates the people he claims to represent.

In a sense, it was entirely appropriate that Abbas walked out. In that sullen act, he [exemplified] his own approach to peacemaking: when difficulties arise, vacate the premises and seek out photographers.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Mahmoud Abbas, Nikki Haley, Politics & Current Affairs, United Nations