According to the cease-fire agreement that ended the summer’s war, as well as the preconditions set by the states pledging to reconstruct Gaza, Hamas is to relinquish partial control of the strip to the Palestinian Authority. But the two have proved unable or unwilling to cooperate. As a result, only a small fraction of the billions of dollars in earmarked aid has been delivered, while buildings destroyed in the fighting remain in ruins. Israel seems to be the one party interested in helping, while Hamas is contemplating another war. Neri Zilber writes:
Israel, of all the parties involved, has shown the greatest degree of flexibility toward a Gaza Strip still ruled by Hamas. In addition to acquiescing in the salary payments, Israel has begun easing restrictions on construction materials and other goods entering the territory, and on certain products (fish, cucumbers) and people exiting. Israel has given its consent to an elaborate UN-led inspection mechanism for reconstruction, which . . . has not yet begun in earnest due to the lack of a PA presence on the ground. “I can’t say that it’s because of Israel that there has been no movement [on reconstruction] at present,” [a] senior UN official said, a sentiment shared by several other foreign diplomats I spoke to in Jerusalem. . . .
Sheikh Mahmoud Musleh, a senior Hamas leader in the West Bank whom I spoke to, had no illusions about the purpose of the new squeeze around his group. “What they are seeking is the end of Hamas military power in the Gaza Strip,” he observed. “This is the main impediment [to reconciliation with the PA].” When I inquired whether his group would consider laying down their arms for the greater welfare of the Gazan people, the answer was definitive: “This is impossible.”