Good riddance to Gaza

A columnist at Time’s website argues that the opening of the Egypt/Gaza border, far from threatening Israel, represents a big gain for Israel, because now Gaza becomes Egypt’s responsibility and in effect a part of Egypt. The de facto transfer of territory is no loss, given (a) Israel’s secure control of the Gaza/Israel border; (b) Israel’s military and demographic withdrawal from Gaza in ‘05; and (c) its more recent cessation of any economic relationship with Gaza, including the permanent termination of allowing Gazan workers within the Green Line (for its labor needs, Israel now brings in temporary workers from non-Muslim countries). The effective transfer of Gaza to Egypt also means that if Israel annexes the “occupied territories,” Gaza would not be included in that deal and its 1.5 million Arabs would not be considered part of the Israeli state. So let the newly “democratic” and Hamas-friendly Republic of Egypt possess one of the most troublesome spots on earth. They’re welcome to it.

The article also says that “few in Israel are talking peace any more.” May we take this as an indication that the Israeli majority that supported or went along with the Oslo “peace” process for much of the last 18 years have tacitly acknowledged that those of us, mainly pro-Israel conservatives in the United States, who condemned the “peace” accord as sheerest madness from the moment of its signing on the White House lawn in September 1993—were right all along? Closure is good.

For Israel, the Silver Lining in Gaza: Shifting the Strip to Egypt
Posted by Karl Vick Sunday, May 29, 2011

Egypt’s decision to officially re-open [sic] its border to the Gaza Strip may be officially tut-tutted over by Israel, which in Hosni Mubarak had a willing partner for besieging the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas. But as a practical matter, the siege effectively ended a year ago Tuesday when Israeli commandos killed nine civilians on an embargo-busting Turkish ferry, and Mubarak abruptly ordered the Rafah crossing opened so as not to get swept up in the global outrage that ensued.

The fanfare over this weekend was occasioned by the “official” opening of the Rafah crossing by Mubarak’s successors, who have indeed opened the doors much wider, impeding the passage only of men of military age. But if it was a cause of celebration for Gazans long confined in “the world’s largest outdoor prison,” the reaction in official Israeli circles surely includes “quiet satisfaction.” For in Jerusalem the feeling is: If the Egyptians want to take responsibility for 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, more power to them. Cairo after all had control of the coastal enclave from 1948 to 1967, when Gaza was among the vast territory Israel conquered in the Six Day War. And though it remains technically under Israeli occupation, Israel Defense Forces pulled out in 2005 when Israel abandoned efforts to plant a Jewish population in coastal settlements. It’s been nothing but trouble since.

“Israel made a move when Israel evacuated but unfortunately Israel failed to get rid of responsibility for what’s going on in Gaza,” observed Giora Eiland, a retired major general, in an interview almost a year go. “No one knows what to do with Gaza.”

A former national security advisor now at a Tel Aviv think tank, Eiland remains a significant figure in Israel’s defense establishment. What he saw in the aftermath of the flotilla fiasco was an opportunity to shuck off an albatross. Never mind that Israel has its own state-of-the-art border crossing at the northern tip of the strip. Palestinians who once commuted into Israel to do work Israelis would not are not going to be allowed back. Israel instead ramped up a guest worker program to take up the slack; now Thais work the fields and Chinese work construction. Not even Gaza’s vegetables are welcome in Israel.

“No, no, no,” Eiland said. “We don’t need any kind of economic relationship with Gaza whatsoever.”

Worse, Gaza has no economy of its own, and by many accounts scant prospect of gaining one. “1.5 million people and they double themselves every fifteen years,” Eiland sighed. “Even a serious seaport cannot be built in Gaza. It would have a significant impact on the Israeli coast from an environmental point of view.”

This was not the plan under Oslo, which foresaw a port in Gaza. Nor, for that matter, was it the assumption of the peace talks between former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who mapped out a tunnel between Gaza and the West Bank. But few in Israel are talking peace any more. And as a practical matter, Israel’s defense establishment has operated for decades under the principle of divide and rule—splitting Gaza from the West Bank by requiring Palestinians to obtain permission before traveling from one to the other since 1991, long before the enclaves were divided between Hamas and Fatah, the political faction that controls the West Bank.

“It is not in Israel’s interest to see Gaza and the West Bank as one entity,” Eiland observed.

That’s a view shared not by Palestinians—whose strong sense of nationalism takes in both enclaves, and overwhelmingly welcome the announced reunification of Hamas and Fatah—but it’s endorsed by Israel’s settlers, as determined and implacable a group as you can find in the modern world. They want to hold onto the West Bank, an area rich in Biblical sites and significance to the observant Jews who are the most “hard core” of Jews living on West Bank hilltops, notes Naftali Bennett, director general of the Yesha Council, which represents settlers. Gaza has nothing of consequence to religious Jews, which is one reason to be rid of it.

Another reason: Without the Strip, Israel can make a better case for annexing the West Bank. As Bennett explained the other day to a room of foreign journalists, the case against annexation has always been the assumption that Palestinians would soon outnumber Jews, making Israel a defacto apartheid state, with the minority governing the majority. Few Israelis want to be in that position. But, Bennett maintains, “the myth that demography is against us is wrong. Demography is not against us.”

His math is instructive in more ways than one.

Within its borders, Israel has some six million Jewish residents and 1.1 million Arabs, descendants of Palestinians who did not leave in 1948. How many Palestinians reside on the West Bank is a matter of dispute, but Bennett thinks 1.8 million is about right. Combine them, and you have a nation of six million Jews and about three million Palestinians, a comfortable Jewish majority, Bennett says, given the declining birth rate among Israeli Arabs.

And Gaza? What about the 1.5 million Palestinians there?

“Gaza we don’t count,” Bennett says. “Because that’s gradually becoming Egypt’s problem.”

Rhona N. writes:

I would not think that Egypt nor the Palestinians would agree with the assessment that Egypt now assumes the responsibility for the inhabitants of Gaza. History bears that out. No major Arab state has ever done so. The proposal to incorporate the West Bank into Israel is a sure path to death and destruction. The Jewish State cannot be more viable with a major increase in the Muslim population even if the demographics are in the Jews’ favor. It would increase Arab demands. They smell the finish line. That is why the Arabs demand the right of return. The West, in its eternal ignorance, is seduced by this. The poor babies only want to return to their land from which they were expelled. Pity as a virtue among the weak West.

Human history is the recurrence of past events over and over again. The clothing, the weapons, the faces are different but the events are the same. Same mistakes over and over. A history of idiots. (Would the Jews recognize Hitler without a mustache? ) We need affirmative action—all groups are equal, aren’t they? Why aren’t the Arabs doing well? Perhaps even busing and forced integration.

Israel must rid herself of the obnoxious, the bigoted, the hateful, and not incorporate them into her body. Israel must strive to rid herself of the Arabs and become a truly Jewish state.

Recurrence—another 1948.

LA replies:

Of course that has been my position since the outbreak of the post-Camp David terror intifada in October 2000, repeated innumerable times at this blog—that the only way Israel has a serious chance of long term survival is through the removal of the Arabs from west of the Jordan.

But Israel is not about to adopt that as a policy. In the meantime, for the Israelis to reject the illusions of the “peace” process and “two-state” solution seems like a move in the right direction.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 30, 2011 03:46 PM | Send

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