Gershon Baskin

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

22.07.2015

Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

It is time to open the diplomatic toolbox to find a different way to deal with the Gaza Strip.

Gaza is an enemy territory run by a terrorist organization that refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist and is constantly re-arming itself for the next round of violence. There are 1.8 million people living there who are cut off from the world and completely dependent on Israel for food, water, electricity, medicine and more, and yet Israel’s influence in shaping the future of Gaza is next to zero. Even allowing billions of dollars of international aid to enter Gaza will not prevent the next round of fighting, which will almost certainly bring about further destruction that will then require an additional round of international aid, along with all of the international condemnations of Israel’s military actions.

This cycle of absurdity has led some Israeli policy makers to consider the possibility of entering into a long-term cease-fire with Hamas as the only possible course of action to break the cycle. More probably, a long-term cease-fire with Hamas without a political process aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will only delay the next round of violence, while Hamas increases in power and legitimacy in Palestine and around the world. Others propose the reoccupation of Gaza, damning Israel to once again send tens of thousands of our young people to patrol and police a resistant and violent population.

The cycle must be broken and a new modus operandi needs to be employed. The goal for Israel and its allies, including the Palestinian Authority, must be the decommissioning of weapons in Gaza and the return of Gaza to a unified Palestinian polity under the rule of those interested in making peace with Israel, not destroying it. This reality must be seen through the prism of the common regional threats in Islamic State, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaida and other jihadi groups in the region. The empowerment of Iran through the recent international agreement also re-opens the door to renewed cooperation between Tehran and Gaza – another threat to Israel and its neighbors.

Gaza must be placed on the table of the region as a problem that Israel and its moderate neighbors have a common interest in confronting. The pre-condition for raising Gaza to the regional agenda is a renewal of a genuine and credible engagement between Israel and the PLO led by Mahmoud Abbas. Additionally, Israel needs to finally recognize the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for moving forward in dialogue and peace seeking with Israel’s neighbors.

Israel’s announcement of its acceptance of the Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for moving forward should be coupled with Israel’s proposal that the issue of Gaza be taken up by the leaders of the Arab League (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Palestine – possibly including Morocco and Tunisia as well).

The stated goal of this proposal must be explicit and announced by Israel: the return of Gaza to the authority of the PLO (Palestine), the decommissioning of Gaza’s weapons and the inclusion of Gaza into the future recognition by Israel of the State of Palestine, predicated on a negotiated peace treaty between Israel and Palestine.

Article 3a of the Arab Peace Initiative states: “ensuring the security for all the states in the region” – this is fully applicable both to the State of Israel and the state of Palestine and should be emphasized by Israel when it announces its agreement to base negotiations and relations on the Arab Peace Initiative.

In all previous permanent-status negotiations between Israel and the PLO, the Palestinians admitted willingness for their state to be “non-militarized.” Palestinians have said that having a Palestinian army would be a self-defeating proposition because it would not able to protect itself from any advancing army – Israeli, Jordanian or any other, and therefore it would be a great waste of the limited resources that Palestine would have to invest in the welfare of its people. This is exactly the opposite of what Hamas has done with its massive investments in rockets and tunnels, which have been not only at the expense of their people but have led directly to the destruction of Gaza. The only real protection that the future state of Palestine will be able to provide to its people is through its entry into a security pact, first with the State of Israel, and secondly through a regional framework for security, stability and economic development including Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf States.

The first step toward the recognition by Israel of the state of Palestine is through ensuring the decommissioning of Gaza’s weapons and the redeployment of PA security forces in Gaza, either with the integration of Hamas security personnel (who accept the new formula) or the total decommissioning of those personnel who refuse to be part of the Palestinian security apparatus.

The only possible way of contemplating this kind of plan becoming a reality is through the application of the Arab Peace Initiative by Israel and the joint Israeli-Palestinian call to the Arab League to organize a Palestinian-led multi-national (primarily Arab based) force to Gaza. The plan must include advancing agreements for the full end of the siege on Gaza including the establishment of a seaport for Gaza (with agreed security protocols for inspection) and eventually the reopening of the Gaza International Airport. The plan must include the full reintegration of the Gaza economy with the West Bank and the opening of Gaza to the rest of the world – in both directions. There is a lot of room for Egyptian participation and support for this initiative because of the common border with Israel and Gaza and the security threats faced by Egypt in Sinai.

This proposal may sound far-fetched to many but the only alternative to it that I have heard from serious people is the option of the long-term truce with Hamas, and I can’t think of anything less in the interest of Israel and the Palestinians who support a two-state solution than that, or Israel’s reconquering and reoccupation of Gaza, and I can’t think of anything more foolish than that.

There is a lot of room for genuine cooperation between a State of Israel seriously willing to make peace based on two states and the Palestinian leadership willing to make peace with Israel, especially regarding the quagmire of how to deal with Gaza. With all of the difficulties involved, an Israeli-Palestinian-Arab joint move on Gaza would be an excellent strategy for confronting broader regional threats that are common to all of those states involved.

Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier


World Wide Web aixpaix.de

Beiträge von Gershon Baskin
2016

De-risking peace - Part I

The Left is right

The French connection

The United Nations and Israel’s legitimacy

A moment of opportunity

The darkness of our times

Addressing the core

The worst negotiations, the best negotiations

Palestinian turmoil and Israeli interests

This one is for you - the Palestinians

Palestinian suffering makes no sense for Israel

Creating a compelling vision for peace

It is also in our hands

Sooner or later

There is no partner

There is no partner

2015

Yes, it is difficult to make peace

What does he really want?

To those who oppose Israeli-Palestinian peace

Israel – my sad home

Have I got news for you

It is still not too late for peace

Netanyahu, tell us what you really think!

The partnership challenge

The binational reality that we are experiencing

Abbas is still the leader who can make peace

A new intifada?

After Abbas

The distance between here and peace and security

Doing the wrong thing at that wrong time

The one and only solution!

Yeshayahu Leibowitz was right!

The disengagement – 10 years on: What we choose to forget

Needed - a new approach to Gaza

A bad agreement is better than no agreement

Obviously no peace now, so what then?

Ramadan Kareem!

Israel’s strategic choices regarding Gaza

Anti-normalization hypocrites

FIFA, soccer and the Palestinians

Both sides now

It’s time for Palestine

The citizens’ challenge – from despair to hope

We have the chance to do the right thing in Yarmouks

The world is not against us

This is what you voted for, and this is what you will get

The no decision elections

A cautious peace, but peace nevertheless

For the sake of Israel, Netanyahu must be sent home

Going ballistic even prior to an agreement

To the new IDF chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot

The Peace Bridge

The choices we must make

Israeli elections – It’s not about the economy

Threats and security

2014

Returning to negotiations

Our most important elections

The missed opportunities

We want peace, but they don't

Our future is in our hands

Defining who we are

Unlike religious wars, political wars have solutions

Today and tomorrow

If we had a real leader

Jerusalem of peace, Jerusalem of war

No tango going on at all

The Gaza challenge

Is Hamas prepared to end this war with a long-term ceasefire?

The end of the ceasefire, the renewal of war and the end game

The aftermath

Some thoughts this morning

Regional forum for security and stability – Gaza first

After a long phone conversation with a Hamas leader in Gaza

Don’t destroy Gaza, build it!

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 3 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace (part 2 of 3)

Framework document for the establishment of permanent peace

Palestinian refugees in Syria

Annexing the West Bank – a catastrophic plan for the Jewish people

Mutual and reciprocal recognition

Our Palestinians, their Jews

A very personal statement on peace

2013

Contextual reciprocity

Negotiating atmospherics

My Conversation With Hamas

Ramadan Kareem

Wahrheit, Lügen und Rechtmäßigkeit

Kauft palästinensisch!

Rat für den Präsidenten

Keine Fortsetzung des Unilateralismus!

Diesen Weg müssen wir einschlagen!

Die Kluft im Umgang mit den israelischen Arabern schließen

2012

Eine Ein-Staat-Realität ist nicht durchführbar

Strategische Fehler und Herausforderungen

Mord an der Chance für Ruhe

Das Ende des Raketenbeschusses aus Gaza

Die Aufgabe eines Staatsmannes

Es gibt einen Ausweg

Atomwaffen raus aus dem Arsenal

Was Abbas Israel sagen sollte

Obama, gestatte es uns nicht!

Ist mein zionistischer Traum gestorben?