Gershon Baskin

The Gaza challenge

20.08.2014

Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

Gaza is different in many ways, but one lesson that should be learned from Iraq and is 100 percent relevant for Gaza is that you cannot resolve a political problem solely with military means.

The war has returned and everyone is focusing on the military aspects – how to crush Hamas, how to kill its leaders, how to bring Hamas to its knees. All of the military plans are possible. It is possible to reconquer Gaza. It is possible to kill most or all of the Hamas political and military leaders. It is even possible to conduct a regime change in Gaza.

Israel has the military might to do this. There will be a price – one that is impossible to assess before it is done – but if Israel is willing to pay the price, it can be done. But if anyone believes that by doing this the problem of Gaza will be resolved, my recommendation is to look at Iraq.

The US defeated Saddam Hussein, conquered Iraq, released 250,000 Iraqi soldiers from the army, created a new army, armed it, conducted democratic elections, created a new Iraq. Despite the US victory, Iraq has not known even one day of peace and the neighborhood of Iraq is far more dangerous today than it was before cutting off the head of the Iraqi snake.

Of course Gaza is different in many ways, but one lesson that should be learned from Iraq and is 100 percent relevant for Gaza is that you cannot resolve a political problem solely with military means. The political problem of Gaza, which is the political problem of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, will remain the aspiration of the Palestinian people to be free from Israeli control. There must be a political solution.

So here’s a new idea – somewhat recycled from a time long passed but nevertheless new in today’s context: Let Gaza become the first stage of an independent sovereign Palestinian state. If it is successful, meaning peaceful, meaning focused on development, meaning educating for peace, Israel would agree that the West Bank follow suit and join the Palestinian state with full independence.

If it fails, pressure would be removed from Israel regarding the West Bank and we will need to search for alternative solutions.

It should be clear that I don’t think that this is the best way to proceed.

The best way is for Israel to declare its willingness to accept the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and then with the engagement of Israel’s other Arab neighbors – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the Emirates – develop a regional security and stability pact. This would require Israel to now accept that its control over the Palestinians will come to an end and that Palestine will achieve its independence and freedom from Israel.

The implementation would obviously be gradual, over time and based on performance benchmarks including security, economic and political parameters.

However, the same basic formula could be developed vis-à-vis Gaza.

First there would be an Israeli declaration that Gaza would be free, the blockade will end, Gaza will be able to have a seaport, an airport and would be recognized by Israel and the world as the first stage of Palestinian independence. Israel and the Palestinian leadership (not Hamas) would negotiate a framework and time and performance schedule for implementation. An international donor’s conference would be held where pledges would be made for Gaza’s reconstruction, which would also be implemented over time based on performance of the security, economic and political parameters. A regional security and stability pact would be signed enabling Palestinian Authority troops to be sent to Gaza along with, if desired, supplementary Arab and European forces. The security and stability pact would ensure that no militarization of Gaza will take place.

Another essential aspect of the proposal would be to turn around, as quickly as possible, the relations between Gaza and Israel with Israel offering assistance at every level and facilitating international efforts to rebuild Gaza. This would include relinking the economy of Gaza with the West Bank and with Israel –meaning exports and imports – to and from Israel, and through Israel to the West Bank, and the rest of the world.

Israel would also offer to accept Palestinian labor in Israel, although with all of the rebuilding efforts that will take place in Gaza, there will be full employment available for everyone who wants to work in Gaza.

The whole plan is based on creating the incentives – which are political and economic in essence. The challenge is that the success of Gaza will determine the future of the West Bank as well. If real progress is made in Gaza with responsible Palestinian governance providing leadership for Palestinians in Gaza, Israel would enter into negotiations with the Palestinian leadership on the gradual transformation of the West Bank in the second part of the Palestinian state.

The key to this process is the setting of performance parameters and with the assistance of a trustworthy international implementation assistance mechanism moving forward as progress is documented and verified. The incentive program adding more elements of sovereignty, independence and economic development in Gaza as progress is made must be linked to advancing progress on moving the process to the West Bank. That is the essential link that will prevent the security risks in the West Bank as a result of thinking that Gaza first might be Gaza only.

It should be quite clear by now that the Palestinian people, in Gaza and in the West Bank, will not give up their aspirations to be a free people in their land. It should be clear that no people would be willing to live under siege without freedom of movement and access. It should also be clear that the time has come for Israel to launch some kind of political initiative aimed at resolving the conflict. Failure to take the initiative on a political plan toward peace is a betrayal of the Zionist dream.

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?