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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The two-reichlet solution comes to pass - Part 2

Back in June, when Hamas took over Gaza from Fatah, I wrote a post entitled The two-reichlet solution, in which I argued that it was far more likely that Hamas would take over Judea and Samaria than it was that Fatah would ever recover Gaza.
In any event, I believe that at least when it comes to doing the normal everyday things that governments do (roads, sewers, etc.), Hamas will actually do a better job of governing than Fatah. The problem is that Hamas will turn Gaza into an Islamic caliphate. In the short term, maybe it won't be such a bad problem - the crazy fatwas and honor killings will be a tremendous embarrassment to the Arab world.

Expecting this to stop at Gaza is likely unrealistic. There are plenty of Hamas supporters in places like Jenin, Shchem (Nablus - where there has already been fighting) and Hebron. As was shown in Gaza, the numerical superiority of Fatah forces is meaningless.

So where will Israel go from here? Here's one indication:
In Israel, defense officials said talking with Hamas might become unavoidable, as closing all crossings from the Gaza Strip into Israel to avoid intra-Palestinian violence leaking into Israel would soon cause an unprecedented humanitarian crisis.

Israeli sources were quoted as saying that following the developments in the strip, Israel was now viewing the Gaza Strip as a "separate enemy state."
Three weeks ago, just before Hamas turned the lights out in Gaza, 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen decided to set up a separate 'Palestinian parliament' for Judea and Samaria as an excuse for dissolving the current Hamas-dominated 'Palestinian Legislative Council.'

The events of the last two weeks have resulted in the other reichlet - Gaza Hamastan - becoming a de facto 'state' according to Yaakov Amidror and Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. It's not pretty.

The bottom line is that (1) Israel may have lost its opportunity to mount a major military operation to disarm the 'Palestinians' in Gaza, and if not, it will lose it in the near future, (2) any future Israeli military operations in Gaza could end up bringing Israel into confrontation with Egypt, (3) the carefully crafted demilitarization provisions of the Israel-Egypt 'peace treaty' are being violated with the necessity of allowing Egypt more police power to control the flow of terrorists and weapons into and out of Gaza, (4) the flow of weapons is not being controlled anyway, and (5) we now have a de facto jihadi state on our southern border. Here's some of what they have to say:
Hamas's breaching of the 12-kilometer security fence separating Gaza from Sinai on January 23, 2008, with the acquiescence of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, has triggered major shifts in the relationships between Israel, Gaza, and Egypt.

Opening Gaza's southern border to Egypt was a well-planned strategic move that has effectively knighted Hamas as the recognized government of a new state of Gaza. Previously, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and some Israelis had hoped that pressuring Hamas in Gaza via sanctions, while helping to create a stable and prosperous Palestinian society in the West Bank under Fatah leader and PA President Mahmoud Abbas, would trigger support for Abbas' leadership in Gaza.

However, recent events in Gaza have buried this possibility for the foreseeable future. Hamas, via Gaza's new-found access to Egyptian materials, goods and services, can now ease Gaza's depressed economic condition, and thereby diminish the differences between Gaza and the more prosperous West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flooded the northeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula after January 23, spending approximately $130 million in local Egyptian markets. [And you thought they were poor. CiJ]

The opening of the state of Gaza to Egypt reinforces Hamas control that no external pressure will be able to reverse at this juncture. Abbas's prospects of regaining control in Gaza are remote, at best. Notwithstanding reports of an agreement with Egypt to include Abbas's Presidential Guard at Gaza's Rafah border crossing, Hamas will not give up its achievement and allow forces loyal to Abbas to control the border, despite Egypt's preference for such an arrangement.


Hamas has agreed to cooperate with Egypt to close the breached border. However, the gesture is temporary and must also be considered in the context of Hamas's stated intention to disengage completely from Israel, abandon the shekel and adopt an Arab currency and seek fuel, utilities, trade and a new open border regime with Egypt.

This crisis may also be seen in a much broader and far-reaching political and ideological context. For the first time in the history of the modern Middle East (other than the limited case of Hassan Turabi's Sudan), Hamas - the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ideological precursor to al-Qaida - has gained full control over contiguous territory and population, and has now effectively become a state government without real opponents or internal challenges for power.


The events in Gaza may signal an historic change: the end of Fatah as the ruling political power in Palestinian society. Fatah's continued control in Palestinian areas of the West Bank today is the direct result of the Israel Defense Forces' control of the territory. Only the continuing IDF operations in the West Bank have prevented Hamas from staging a takeover similar to its military coup against Fatah in Gaza in 2007.

Another strategic shift is reflected in Gaza's new status as an enemy state entity with open borders. Gaza has transformed from its prior status as part of the Palestinian Authority to its new role as a mini-state that is now an integral part of the Arab world. Hamas will now be able to more freely obtain weapons, ammunition, explosives and training via Egyptian Sinai. Since the border opening, advanced weapons have flowed unimpeded into Gaza across the Egyptian border, enabling the transfer of higher-grade weapons than can be smuggled via underground tunnels.


It must be understood that Hamas is no longer merely a well-trained guerrilla terror force. Rather, Hamas must be confronted as a state army that uses guerrilla tactics and terrorism while, simultaneously, it prepares for all-out war against Israel. With each passing day that Israel does not mobilize for a major ground operation in Gaza, it will be more difficult for the IDF to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas, whose growing Katyusha rocket arsenal has already reached Ashkelon and can strike major Israeli urban centers 20 kilometers north of Gaza, like Kiryat Gat and Ashdod.


While certain benefits may accrue to Israel as a result of a shift in Egypt-Gaza relations, there are also possible dangers for Israel-Egypt relations, which are a vital strategic asset for both Jerusalem and Cairo. If Egypt is forced to take responsibility for Gaza, Israel will have to more carefully weigh its military responses to Hamas terror actions originating from the Strip. Israel's strategic flexibility could be reduced due to any direct Egyptian role in Gaza. Israel may benefit if it is no longer the responsible party for the welfare of Gaza's citizens. But at the same time, Israel loses its ability to monitor what enters and exits over Gaza's border with Egypt.
Read it all.


At 10:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:42 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Tzipy Livni wanted to increase the Egyptian force strength on Israel's border. The Security Cabinet shot down that idea... the other brainchild of hers is an international force in Gaza modeled after UNIFIL in Lebanon.

Livni is even more empty-headed than Olmert. For now her colleagues keep her in check. Letting her become Prime Minister would be like turning a kid loose in a candy store... not good for Israel.

Livni should be kept as away as possible from the levers of power. Who knows what that woman can do.


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