Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Video: Artificial Island Off Gaza Would Provide Access To Outside World

The video below is in Hebrew, but below is a translation of the original article from the Channel 2 news site.

This translation of the original article accompanies the video on its YouTube page.

First Publication: Artificial island for final disengagement from Gaza

In recent months the Government formulated an idea put forward by senior officials and it won wide support. According to plan, an area off the coast of the Gaza Strip will be drained for sea and air ports to be set up - hopefully separating the area completely. The unusual move is being coordinated with the Palestinian Authority while Hamas is out of the picture

Udi Segal | News 2 | Posted 29/03/11 20:35 [Translation by IMRA]

Is the solution to the complex situation with Gaza in the sea? Israel recently developed a secret plan designed to bring a definitive disengagement from Gaza. In what initially may sound bizarre, the establishment of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza is being promoted seriously and with determination seriously by state officials.

Transport Minister Israel Katz conceived the idea with the knowledge of Prime Minister Netanyahu and enthusiastic support of President Shimon Peres. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan was mentioned as one of those involved. According to the prepared possible model, an island will be formed in the sea within 4.5 kilometers from the shores of Gaza which will container 8000 dunam connected to the Gaza Strip by a bridge, similar to the bridge now serving the power stations in Hadera and Ashkelon.

The island would have a sea port, airport, along with logistical areas, tourist areas and hotels, facilities, electricity, water and more. All these are designed to allow the Gaza Strip access to the outside world without any Israeli involvement, without this causing security risks while allowing for a release from the effects of the blockade.

This policy can continue the closure of the Gaza Strip, while control of the island - which would be a demilitarized zone - will be transferred to international forces such as NATO, to monitor the movement of people from Gaza.

Hamas out of bounds

Access to the island will be possible only through the bridge to be erected, and it would be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority with no Hamas involvement in the project. So far the project has received much interest and support. It has an estimated cost of 5-10 billion dollars. Establishment of the island with its facilities is expected to take between half a decade and a decade.

The planning of the project has been assigned to a planning team of experts who have been working on it already for three months, and it is waiting now for the green light from the prime minister. Among other things, it will be possible to take the island territory into account in the territorial exchange agreement negotiated in the permanent status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. In the absence of a political initiative on the horizon, it appears the project is a fresh breeze from the Netanyahu government.
I'm not sure how this is supposed to work without Hamas agreeing to it--and if they will be cut off from any involvement with the project, why would they agree?

After all, if Hamas has no problem with blocking incoming aid from Gazans, they won't have any problem with  cutting off access to the island from their own people.

The $5-10 billion price tag seems more than exorbitant--but considering how much money the world is willing to shower on the Palestinian Arabs, I suppose they would be willing to go for this idea...especially since it would be a project developed by Israel.

I guess we'll find out soon enough.
In 5-10 years.

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