August 16, 2014


Forget about taming or disarming Hamas: cut it a deal it can't refuse (ROSEMARY HOLLIS, 15 August 2014, OpenDemocracy)

A radical solution that places Hamas at the centre of negotiations is worth consideration if only as a way to escape further time wasting on already defunct or moribund formulations. And the key to this radical approach would be the Hamas demand for the development of a Gaza seaport. The logic behind Hamas' thinking on this is clearly that that such a facility would relieve Gazans of dependence on either the Israelis or the Egyptians, with or without PA involvement, and provide them with access to the outside world.

The proposal being mooted here is that an international team responsible to the UN secretary general would propose to the Hamas leadership that it cooperates in the development and running of a new port facility on condition that it renounces violence and the smuggling of weapons for a set period, say ten years, while Gaza is rebuilt, offshore facilities constructed, fishing permits extended out to sea and the gas field off the Gazan coast is developed.

Certainly, Hamas would enjoy a reprieve - a reward even - for its stance hitherto, but at a price - namely an end to resistance to Israel, while the 1.8 million or so inhabitants of Gaza are enabled to achieve some sort of quality of life hitherto denied them. If they are left to fester, they will produce ever more militants, and Hamas will seem like moderates compared to the ideologues of the future.

There is no exact precedent for this proposal. The Israeli government will not like it, because it will not be in control: but by its own logic it has relinquished the right to determine who rules Gaza and how by evacuating the place in 2005. The PA would not like it, nor many other Palestinians, because it would effectively maintain the division between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but it must know that a reinsertion of the PA in Gaza in the name of unity would only make the organisation the stooge of Israel and Egypt.

The problem here, as in less charitablr analses of Palestine's future, is that as it normalizes it's going to have elections and secular parties won't lead the nation.

Posted by at August 16, 2014 6:29 AM

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