Gaza Strip Hamas Israel Israeli occupation Palestinians

One man’s fantasies about “unruly Palestinians”

Epraim Inbar of Bar-Ilan University has published a piece that disproves the notion that everything that can be said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has already said. He harbors the fantasy that somehow the chaos in Gaza and the disarray in the West Bank will turn out well for Israel because….eventually Egypt and Jordan will share the “burden of ruling over the unruly Palestinians.” This notion comes from the same kind of wishful thinking that once prompted Israel to ignore the PLO and negotiate with Arab village leagues in the territories. It is akin to the “Jordan-is-Palestine” concept that still persists among some people on the Israeli right.

We always hear that left-wing Israelis and American Jews are unrealistic, live in a dream world, are unwilling to learn the hard lessons of the past. Compared to this guy, the Women in Black (or the meditators who think that more TM will bring peace and enlightenment to the region) are hard-nosed pragmatists:

…The emergence of Hamastan in Gaza may propel Egypt into a “partner” role, which it played willingly in the 1948-67 period. It is very understandable that Egypt does not want to again rule over Gaza. Nevertheless, Hamas’ success in opening the Egypt-Gaza border places Egypt on the horns of a dilemma.

Thus far, Egypt enjoyed the bleeding of Israel, a regional rival, by Hamas – with little cost to itself. But Hamas has grown more powerful and its free access to Sinai has become dangerous….

…On the one hand, Egypt must show solidarity with the Palestinians and sensitivity to their suffering. Therefore, it allowed Gazans to enter its territory. On the other hand, Egypt is a proud sovereign country that wants full control over its borders. It is particularly fearful of the influence of Hamas at home. The rule of Hamas in Gaza is an encouraging development for all Muslim radicals throughout the world. Egypt, like most established Arab states, does not want Hamas to flourish. Nevertheless, Egypt was already manipulated several weeks ago by Hamas when it allowed Gazans returning from pilgrimage to Mecca to enter the Gaza Strip in violation of an agreement with Israel. Hamas again took advantage of Egyptian sensibilities to blast holes in the Rafah wall.

It is not yet clear how the Egyptian dilemma will play out. One distinct possibility is a greater Egyptian role in Gaza to limit the Islamist influence. This is advantageous for Israel, even if some terror may still originate in Gaza. Actually, such a scenario could evolve only after a large-scale Israeli military operation that would extract a heavy price from Gaza, seriously weakening Hamas, particularly its military wing. Then, Gazans may become more susceptible to an enhanced Egyptian presence (which may or may not be formal).

Informal agreements for Arab influence and unofficial control in the Palestinian areas may prove to be quite conducive to the achievement of basic stability in the region. Eventually, Egyptian informal rule over Gaza might be emulated by Jordan in the West Bank. A large number of Palestinians are fed up with their national movement; it has brought only suffering to the Palestinian people. Thus, the new situation in Gaza could beget an opportunity for the emergence of a new paradigm in which Arab states share the burden of ruling over the unruly Palestinians.

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