Monday, January 26, 2009

Sharansky: Neither Hamas Nor PA Can Be In Charge Of Rebuilding Gaza

According to Natan Sharansky, Hamas obviously cannot be put in charge of the funds for the reconstruction of Gaza--but neither can the Palestinian Authority, because of their corruption.

That of course leaves the obvious question of just who will be put in charge, and Sharansky has the answer:
The only way to give real hope to the Palestinians in Gaza is through the creation of an international body that consists of the U.S., Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the European states -- a structure whose first order of business should be to establish a mechanism for making sure that every project contributes directly to Palestinian life, not politics.

No longer can the refugee camps be centers of misery and fanatical indoctrination; no longer can the industrial zones and private businesses be hijacked for the comfort of the ruling elites and their families.

In other words: If the new Gaza regime isn’t built on real standards of transparency and accountability, then all these billions will be an investment not in peace, but in perpetuating the misery of Palestinians -- and in the inevitable next round of conflict. But if such a mechanism can be made to work, we may yet see a better day for Palestinians and Israelis alike.
The proof of the potential for real economic progress in Gaza may be Ramallah:
Unlike the rest of the Palestinian territories, and in dramatic contrast to East Jerusalem in particular, this mostly modern city is experiencing a political, cultural, and economic renaissance that has quickened in the past 12 months.

"I call it the five-star occupation," says Sam Bahour, a prominent Ramallah businessman. By "occupation," he means Israel's ongoing military presence in the territory. "This is probably the only place in the West Bank where there's genuine economic activity."

The upswing has two main sources, including the resumption last year of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual funding to the Palestinian Authority by international donors.

More recently, the soaring price for petroleum has garnered huge additional revenues for Qatar and other oil-rich Gulf states, money that has to be invested somewhere.

"We are receiving some of that petro-dollar spin-off," says Bahour.
Of course, that article about Ramallah was written in June--and the global recession has no doubt put a considerable crimp in the funding that was going into the area. Nevertheless, it does serve as a model of what is possible.

But more importantly, if Hamas is to be phased out and if the PA is incapable of turning itself around into a competent reliable governing body, what is going to happen to Gaza--and the West Bank, for that matter?

During a January 7 conference call, Brigadier General and MK Effie Eitam suggested Israel's approach towards both Gaza and the West Bank:
We should have patience--if a presence in Gaza is needed for a while, so be it. However, there are no intentions to reoccupy Gaza. Israel does not want to be in charge of Gaza's future.

Maybe Israel would participate in an international effort at rebuilding Gaza. But there will be no more Hamistan.

The Peace Process goal of 2 states for 2 nations is not something that can actually be implemented. Instead, the West Bank realizes that there is not going to be a separate state but rather only real option is for Israel to continue to be a shield. The Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are comfortable with this. If new ideas/leadership comes—then maybe can we can talk. Till then in Judea and Samaria – Israel is the defense shield, but not occupying. [these are notes and not a direct quote]
Sharansky seems to be echoing the approach suggested by General Eitam--now it remains to be seen whether Israel can put together a coalition of nations similar to the idea that Sharansky has put forth. The alternative is a repeat of the disaster which followed the end of the 2006 war with Hizbollah.

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