Monday, January 19, 2009

Is Iran About To Get An Even Strong Foothold In Gaza? (Updated)

In Averting Iranian Influence in Post-War Gaza: The Rehabilitation Issue, Shimon Shapira writes about the next challenge facing the Israel government in Gaza, now that it has imposed a unilateral ceasefire on itself:
  • Immediately upon the end of the fighting in Gaza, the international community will enlist on behalf of an extensive rehabilitation project to enable the Palestinian population to return to their homes and get on with their civil and economic lives.

  • It is of prime importance to prevent Iran from acquiring influence in post-war Gaza through any assistance programs.

  • Following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, Iran and Hizbullah grasped the political and economic significance of the rehabilitation project in the Shiite areas of southern Lebanon damaged during the war. Hizbullah directed the rehabilitation work, while totally ignoring the central Lebanese government, and in this manner regained and even reinforced its influence within the Shiite community.

  • Iran is already positioning itself for influence in post-war Gaza. On January 14, 2009, the Deputy Speaker of the Iranian Parliament, Ali Akbar Mohtashami, arrived in Lebanon heading a 40-man delegation in order to direct Iranian support for Hamas.

  • The main objective for Israel and the international community should be to deny Iran the attainment of this objective and to transform the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, into the principal factor, along with Egypt, entrusted with the rehabilitation work in Gaza.

All easier said than done.

Considering the failure of the Israeli government to follow through on Operation Cast Lead to a successful conclusion and accounting for the tremendous pro-Hamas sentiment coupled with anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment that we have seen paraded in protests around the world and in the media--just what are the chances that the the world will care a whit about Israeli concerns and sensibilities when it comes time to rebuild Gaza?

What is going to happen in Gaza may make UN Resolution 1701 look good.

UPDATE: David Hazony has a post that puts things in a totally different light:
Although I have not yet heard confirmation, IDF radio just reported that the EU has said it will not release funds for the reconstruction of Gaza so long as Hamas is in power. This is a dramatic punchline to Ehud Olmert’s impressive diplomatic maneuvering over the last few days.

Yesterday, the leaders of France, Britain, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and Italy all showed up in Jerusalem to show support for Israel’s cease-fire and Ehud Olmert personally. This was an unprecedented display, and does a lot to challenge the prevailing view that Israel has been overwhelmingly slammed in the international arena.

But if the EU’s latest announcement about Hamas holds firm, it suggests that there may be more to this war than meets the eye. Today, Hamas announced that its first course of business is rebuilding its arsenal — something we might have expected they would want to keep fairly quiet, and which will surely not play well internationally. If the battle lines continue to be drawn in this fashion, the war might have produced more than we yet know.

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