Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gaza To Secede?

Think Pakistan and the independence of Bangladesh.   Now think Palestinian Authority/West Bank and Hamas/Gaza splitting up.  This little jaw dropper seems to be in the works with Hamas, a charter branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, looking to link up with big brother Egypt, itself now with  Muslim Brotherhood leadership.   In effect, Gaza would be severing all ties with both Israel and the rest of the Palestinian territories.

Hamas may be contemplating... ...cutting its financial ties to both Israel and the Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank, in preparations for declaring full independence on behalf of Gaza.

Al-Hayat first reported the story on July 22. The London-based Arabic daily noted that Hamas was poised to sever its limited economic ties with Israel, open a free trade zone with Egypt at the Rafah border crossing, and declare itself liberated. Before the story could gain traction, however, senior Hamas leaders Mahmoud al-Zahhar and Salah al-Bardawil quickly disavowed the reports.

But senior Gazan officials quietly acknowledged to me in recent meetings that Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood splinter group, and President Mohamed Morsi’s new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt, are actively discussing this controversial idea. Hamas has approached the question patiently since conquering the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Now, after a half decade of economic hardship resulting from the Gaza embargo, the Hamas government appears to believe that 1.7 million Gazans would welcome the free flow of goods above nearly all else.

...Egyptians are particularly ambivalent. In April, Palestine Press quoted an Egyptian official who opposed the move because it would “cause great harm to the Palestinian cause.” 

...Egypt is also deeply reluctant to let Israel off the hook. As long as Israel controls Gaza’s borders, airspace and coastal waters, it is seen as the occupying power. 

Speculative and radical as this sounds, Gaza is a territory and a people facing existential challenges in urgent need of solutions.  A United Nations report found that without great improvements in water, electricity, sanitation and health services, Gaza could be unlivable by 2020.   Something big has to happen - soon.

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