Israel and Gaza

(Council on Foreign Relations) Elliott Abrams - Former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Giora Eiland thinks the visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar, who pledged $400 million in aid, was perfectly acceptable. He does not believe Israel has any particular interest in reuniting the West Bank and Gaza, rather than seeking a greater integration of Gaza with Egypt. He also notes that efforts by Israel to strengthen the PA and its leader, President Abbas, against Hamas quite often have the opposite effect. He also believes that weakening Hamas does not strengthen Abbas and Fatah in Gaza because they are so weak there and unable to improve their situation. Instead, weakening Hamas strengthens even more extreme salafist and jihadi groups. He argues that to the extent that Hamas comes to be more like a stable government for Gaza, with a decent economy, it will have that much more to lose from confrontations with Israel. Eiland says Israel's only real interest in Gaza is security. He therefore urges a different policy: The first element is to respond extremely strongly to any attack that does come out of Gaza. No slow escalation, no signaling and messaging, just very quick and very tough responses that make Hamas pay a heavy price. Second, after every incident close the border completely and cut off electricity for a while. Again, that is treating Hamas like the government of Gaza and punishing it and its constituents for mortars, rockets, and border attacks. Third, don't worry about visits by foreign leaders like the Emir of Qatar and the money they bring. Missing in Eiland's proposal are additional, simultaneous moves to strengthen the West Bank economy, encourage rich Arab leaders to visit there, and take actions that lead (and enable) the PA to act more like a government that is responsible for maintaining security.

2012-10-29 00:00:00

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