To Cure Gaza’s Ills, Restore Its Connection to Africa

April 8 2019

Given the near-constant violence that has emanated from the Gaza Strip since Hamas’s takeover, some in Israel favor returning the area to the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). But, argues Gershon Hacohen, doing so would only replicate the problems found on the West Bank. He suggests a dramatically different approach to solving the Strip’s economic woes:

The current tendency is to see the Gaza problem as originating in the refugee population that burgeoned there after the 1948 War of Independence. It would make more sense, though, to go back a few steps further and consider the city’s . . . geographic location as an intermediate station on the ancient highway between Asia and Africa [and] between Mesopotamia and Egypt. . . . It was the establishment of the state of Israel that blocked this ancient route, severed Egypt from the Arab east (mashriq), and turned Gaza into a cul-de-sac at the edge of Egyptian territory.

The March 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty considerably exacerbated the Gaza problem. In a shrewd move, President Anwar Sadat shifted the Gaza problem exclusively to Israel’s purview. After the Israeli town of Yamit and neighboring villages had been razed and the Sinai in its entirety had been restored to Egyptian sovereignty all the way to the 1906 international border, Gaza could no longer develop westward into the potential open space between [the border city of] Rafah and [the nearest Egyptian city], el-Arish. . . .

Is it desirable for Israel to conquer Gaza and reimpose its rule, as in pre-Oslo days? If it is not, then Hamas’s military defeat requires an answer to the question of who should be given control of the Strip. Should Israel sacrifice its sons to serve Gaza on a silver platter to [the PA president] Mahmoud Abbas? It was, after all, Yasir Arafat, Abbas’s predecessor as PLO leader, who transformed Gaza into an ineradicable terrorist hotbed in flagrant violation of the Oslo Accords that he had signed. . . .

The center of gravity for dealing with the Palestinian problem should instead be shifted from Ramallah to Gaza, with the aim of creating economic and infrastructure linkages between Gaza and its historic hinterland—the Sinai Peninsula.

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More about: Anwar Sadat, Egypt, Gaza Strip, Palestinian Authority, Sinai Peninsula

What Donald Trump Gets Right about Israel and the Arabs

Oct. 17 2019

With a brisk history of American policy toward the Jewish state, Michael Doran highlights the failure of those who have seen a solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict as paramount to U.S. interests, and the success of those who have instead made a clear-eyed assessment of Middle Eastern geopolitics. Too often, writes Doran, “Israel’s conflict with the Arabs has functioned as a screen onto which outsiders project their own psychodramas”: a skewed perspective that led to the failed Oslo Accords and to the misguided condemnations of American moves like the relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem. (Free registration required.)

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Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, US-Israel relations