Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Could Gaza End Up An Independent Palestinian State Before The West Bank?

"We believe that our Egyptian brothers and the rest of the Arab world are aware of Israeli plans seeking to deepen Palestinian divisions, and to suggest that there are two legitimate powers, one in Gaza and the other in Ramallah," Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told WAFA news agency.
Reuters, Hamas training diplomats, challenging PLO monopoly abroad, September 6, 2012

If Abbas is really all that concerned about divisions between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, he shouldn't be worried about Israel.

Jonathan Schanzer writes that what Abbas should be worried about is Egypt and the fact that Gaza Prepares to Declare Independence (From Palestine):
Al-Hayat first reported the story on July 22. The London-based Arabic daily noted that Hamas was poised to sever its limited economic ties with Israel, open a free trade zone with Egypt at the Rafah border crossing, and declare itself liberated. Before the story could gain traction, however, senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahhar and Salah al-Bardawil quickly disavowed the reports.

But senior Gazan officials quietly acknowledged to me in recent meetings that Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood splinter group, and President Mohamed Morsi’s new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, are actively discussing this controversial idea. Hamas has approached the question patiently since conquering the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Now, after a half decade of economic hardship resulting from the Gaza embargo, the Hamas government appears to believe that 1.7 million Gazans would welcome the free flow of goods above nearly all else.
Schanzer writes that while there are a number of benefits to Gazan independence to both Hamas and Egypt, there are negatives to the idea as well:

  • Hamas is still designated a terrorist group by a number of countries
  • The complete split between Hamas and the PA would be the final blow to Palestinian unity
  • The move would hurt those getting rich off the smuggling tunnels
  • Stripped of their black market trade, Sinai Bedouins could become even more violent
  • An independent Gaza with a free border with Egypt, relieves Israel of responsibility for Gaza and the accusation of being an "occupier".
Read the article for all of the Pros and Cons of Gazan independence for Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Schanzer writes that such a plan for independence could take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.

Then again, like the unity government combining Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the idea could end up going nowhere.

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