As Israel slaughters its way toward ethnically cleansing all of Gaza, the Biden administration and its Arab cronies are devising a post-war “solution” for Gaza. The two approaches are diametrically opposed. But they each proceed as if the other doesn’t exist. And both completely erase Gazans themselves.
We’ve seen this scenario before: the Russians in Afghanistan; the American in Afghanistan; the Americans in Iraq; the Saudis in Yemen. One powerful country bombs and slaughters its way into a weaker country. Then decides it will solve whatever “problem” that country poses by determining who and what should govern it.
The US is devising such a “plan” for Gaza’s future:
A massive postwar reconstruction plan is taking shape for the besieged Gaza Strip, if only the combatants and local politics don’t stand in the way.
Backed by Gulf billions…the plan is being advanced by Arab states, the United States, and the European Union. It aims to transform life for the Palestinians and move them closer to statehood, with new support from the Palestinian Authority.
Moves are accelerating after the PA agreed this week to a proposal by the U.S., the EU, Arab Gulf states, Egypt, and Jordan for a “day-after” scenario. The plan seeks to rebuild the coastal strip, unite and overhaul Palestinian governance, and create a Palestinian security force in Gaza to ensure Palestinian and Israeli security.
There are multiple unexamined assumptions of those plotting Gaza’s “day after.” The vague language of this passage further confirms this. First, a “plan taking shape” is so amorphous as to mean almost anything. Second, a plan opposed by “the combatants and local politics” is pretty much the ball game. You can’t play if the players can’t agree to the rules. This is, again, outsiders trying to impose their ideas on those most affected.
Those “Gulf billions” are also evanescent. Not real. Pledging something is not the same as delivering it. Countries have pledged billions to Gaza before and not delivered. Even when they have, the buildings and infrastructure they’ve built were destroyed by Israel in the next war. How will the Gulf potentates guarantee their billions will not only be spent wisely, but protected from future attack? In short, they can’t.
How does installing the PA in Gaza bring a Palestinian state “closer?” What does that even mean?
Nevertheless, the plan is predicated on pumping massive funding into rebuilding the wasteland once known as Gaza:
Key to the plan is what Arab diplomats describe as a “rapid” reconstruction and humanitarian campaign to alleviate the suffering of Gaza Palestinians, create housing, and restore livelihoods.
You have 25,000 dead (including those missing under the rubble), 2-million refugees, most homes destroyed, no medical care, no power, no clean water. Besides money, they will need construction equipment and tens of thousands of workers to realize this plan. Gaza can provide some of this. But nothing about fixing this can be “rapid.” If it ever happens (and that it highly unlikely) it will take years, if not longer. And that’s only if all the parties, including Israel, agree (which it won’t).
Under the plan, Gulf states have set an initial budget of $3 billion annually for a 10-year period, with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar as the three largest donors, according to a Gulf official who requested anonymity.
The priority of the rapid part of the rebuild will be southern Gaza, where 1 million internally displaced Palestinians have been pushed by the Israeli military. The effort there will be to build housing, schools, hospitals, and water and energy infrastructure, according to those close to discussions.
Israeli rejectionism dooms the best-laid plans
The cruelest irony in all this is that Israel, which destroyed Gaza, won’t have to pay a thin dime to rebuild it. It has outsourced that to its Gulf and US allies, who are only too willing to pony up. How does the world permit a state to destroy a people without having to pay for it?
Israel wants nothing to do with a new and improved Garza. And there is nothing the US or these supposed benefactors have that will entice it. Obama tried $30-billion in military aid in exchange for Netanyahu dropping opposition to the Iran nuclear deal: Bibi took the money and ran. What can they offer him that will bring a different result? Nothing.
Israel wants territory. It wants resources. It wants control. Nothing else matters. It already has almost all of these (minus the Palestinians, who currently stand in the way–but not for long). Further, it doesn’t want peace. It wants constant war. It wants dissension and instability in the region. Those divide them so they cannot unite against a common enemy, Israel.
Those devising these pipe dreams simply do not understand Israeli interests (as Netanyahu perceives them):
Arab states reportedly are attempting to use Gulf funding for reconstruction as leverage to push Israel to accept a PA role in a postwar Gaza, sending a message through their envoys to Israel and Washington: No Palestinian Authority, no funds for Gaza.
Israel doesn’t want Gaza rebuilt. Why would Gulf money persuade it to accept PA rule there? Whoever came up with this idea is either a fool, or simply doesn’t understand Israel’s geostrategic thinking (or both).
Netanyahu-Hanegbi: Bad guy, good guy
Netanyahu’s security aide, Tzahi Hanegbi, published an op-ed (Google Translate offers the text below) in a Saudi publication, Elaph, which supposedly signals some softening by the prime minister on these questions:
…Together with the civilian and moderate forces in the Palestinian arena, the people of Gaza, and with our partners in the international community and among the countries of the region, we will look at how to reconstruct and rebuild the Strip. In order to create a new reality in the sector, a combination of regional and international forces will be needed.
…I would like to make clear that…Israel has no interest in controlling the civil affairs of the Gaza Strip…This will require a moderate Palestinian governing body that enjoys broad popular support and legitimacy. It is not for us to determine who will this [will] be?
Since this is in direct contradiction to what Netanyahu is telling his right-wing Israeli constituency, we must take Hanegbi’s blandishments with a heavy dose of skepticism. Bibi soothes his right-wing supporters while Hanegbi soothes the US. It’s a sophisticated game of two-card monte.
Hanegbi’s statements ooze hypocrisy: Israel will “look at how to reconstruct and rebuild” Gaza? How so? What will it offer? Empty words.
Note that he says Israel has no interest in controlling the civil affairs of Gaza.” But it has great interest in controlling the security affairs of, and in Gaza. After all, it has laid siege to Gaza since 2006. Why would it change now or in the future? It is essentially saying it wants a “moderate” (ie. servile) PA collecting garbage and giving out parking tickets, while it will control every other facet of Palestinian life. We can call this blockade-lite.
Essentially. Israel wants the PA to do in Gaza exactly what it’s doing in the West Bank: outsourcing security to Palestinians in order to protect Israelis, so the State will never have to grant any rights to former.
Note what isn’t in Hanegbi’s article: a Palestinian state. Without which, this entire plan collapses like a house of cards.
Here Hanegbi acknowledges a potential role for newer shinier model of the PA. Let’s call in PA 2.0:
Israel is aware of the desire of the international community and the countries of the region to integrate the Palestinian Authority the day after Hamas, and we make clear that the matter will require a fundamental reform of the Palestinian Authority, which will focus on recognizing its duty to raise the young generation, in Gaza, Ramallah, Jenin and Jericho, in the values of moderation and tolerance, without incitement to violence against Israel.
In its current form, the Authority finds it difficult to do this, and it will require a great effort and assistance from the international community as well as from the countries of the region, and we are ready for this effort.
So Hanegbi not only wants the PA to stop attacks against Israelis, it want it to raise a new young generation of “good” Palestinians who will live quietly and not make any inconvenient demands–like a state of their own. It never ceases to amaze me–the steaming hot hypocrisy of Israel’s leaders.
It is so reassuring that Israel is “ready for this effort.” Sounds like the world community has a real partner, doesn’t it? If you believe that I have a bridge to sell you.
Here’s how that Gaza security outsourcing would work:
…A compromise has been struck by Arab states, the Biden administration, and the PA to police a post-Hamas Gaza with a grouping of former PA security officers in Gaza.
So the very PA which, in 2006, launched a failed coup against Hamas (with US connivance); leading to he latter taking control of Gaza, will return triumphantly to their old stomping ground. I am sure Hamas will welcome their Palestinian brothers with open arms. What about Hamas? Will it go quietly into that good night? Slink off to Doha to hobnob with the oil sheikhs? What will you do with Hamas? They haven’t figured that one out yet, it appears.
The PA is corrupt. It can’t even govern the West Bank, in which chaos rules. This is the entity which they propose will now govern Gaza too? Ah, but they’ve come up with a workaround for that: a new-and-improved version of the old PA:
…The PA agreed with the European-American-Arab plan to form a technocratic unity government under a “revamped and revitalized” PA to govern both Gaza and the West Bank.
Under the verbally agreed-upon plan, octogenarian PA President Mahmoud Abbas would serve as a ceremonial figurehead for a transitional period, with the unity government providing services, running day-to-day affairs, and overseeing reconstruction.
What will this new PA look like? Abbas sure has some ideas about that:
Yet talks are snagging over the details. Mr. Abbas’ inner circle wants the unity government stacked with loyalists and people from the West Bank. The U.S. and Arab powers, diplomats say, are doubling down, insisting the new government be staffed equally with Palestinians from Gaza and from the West Bank, all apolitical technocrats and civil society members.
There may be Gazans who would collaborate with these outsiders, but there can be no buy-in without something more than money and infrastructure. Palestinians want rights. If you can’t offer them that you might as well just stay home and save your money. Nothing in this plan guarantees this. Oh sure there is a vision of a state. But there is no state. Visions aren’t worth a bucket of warm piss, as an American politician once said about his role as vice president:
…The PA is pushing for an international peace conference setting a timeline for a Palestinian state as a condition for promoting the post-Hamas governance plan – a political horizon that would help it sell the initiative to other factions and the public.
There’s that “political horizon” again. The one Biden and Blinken have been hawking like carnival barkers selling snake oil. A horizon, like a vision means precisely nothing. The same holds true for a “timeline.”
Oslo promised a Palestinian state by 2000. Look how well that turned out. Why would any Palestinian faction or person buy into this? They have had their hopes dashed countless times over decades. Do these purveyors of promises think a new set will persuade Palestinians that now, at long last, their ship has come in?
The outsiders continue planning Palestine’s future for Palestinians:
European, British, and Gulf diplomats’ preference, according to multiple sources, is for the revamped PA to include Palestinian diaspora lawyers, scientists, human rights activists, and business leaders from the West. They would be imbued with a belief in good governance, and free of the bitter divisions and petty rivalries that mark Palestinian politics today.
So the miracle cure for Palestinian factionalism is importing Diaspora Palestinian professionals to paper over the differences, and get down to solving ‘real problems.’ As if the very political differences between Fatah and Hamas aren’t far more basic and critical problems to resolve.
Where is Hamas?
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Hamas. It isn’t going anywhere. Israel cannot defeat it. It cannot eliminate it. What do you do with Hamas? The PA seems to think it can buy it off with this type of offer:
The PA is exploring unofficial talks with Hamas in Turkey, offering seats in the PLO if it gives up armed resistance.
Does anyone really think this is an idea that will have the remotest appeal to Hamas? Especially when a Palestinian poll says that only 1% of Palestinians want a unity government under Abbas; and that 60% want Hamas to rule Gaza. 60% also want the PA dissolved. Does this sound like a recipe for future governance of Gaza? Finally, Hamas’ popularity has tripled since 10/7 to 44%. Cut it out of the your considerations regarding Gaza’s future at your peril.