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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Egypt has a consistent policy, Israel does not

Avi Tarengo sums up the problem with Israeli policy on its border with Gaza.
Does Israel have any policy regarding the Gaza Strip? Meaningful policy is supposed to take into account Israel's long-term interests, including its perception by the world. Five years ago, Israel vacated its citizens and army and left Gazans a well-developed economical and agricultural infrastructure. Since the disengagement, Israeli “policy” towards the Gaza Strip has been outlined by a series of symbolic and random decisions, most of them contradicting one another. The indecision regarding Israel’s position in the Gaza Strip can be expressed by the lack of an answer to this simple question: Is Israel still the “occupying force” in the Gaza Strip? The lack of a clear policy is what allowed Judge Goldstone to place the responsibility on Israel as the “occupying force” which is supposed to take care of all the needs of the Strip’s residents.

Unlike Israel, Egypt administrates a clear policy, which slowly but consistently advances Egypt towards achieving its goals. “The Mubarak Line” is not meant to serve Israel’s interests nor is it meant to stop the smuggling of rockets to the Gaza Strip, as Egyptian ambassador Al Hadidi explained so well to the Turks (who complained of the difficulties in transferring aid to the Gaza Strip through Egypt): “Our goal is to prevent the detachment of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. The Gaza Strip must remain under the status of Territory considered occupied by Israel, and the humanitarian aid must come from there - not from Egypt. Recognizing Gaza as an independent entity will damage Palestinian unity and will harm the Palestinians’ cause – remove it from the world’s agenda.”

The Egyptian ambassador is very much aware of what he is saying: When two weeks ago a “supply convoy” by activists making its way to the Gaza Strip was blocked in Egypt, it did not lead to angry articles in the world press. This is in contrast to a nonstop worldwide protest about how Israel is supposedly imposing a “siege”. The world press considers any difference in opinion between Egyptian authorities and Hamas authorities as an internal Arab issue, one of many local conflicts which are not worthy of coverage by the international press - and this is precisely what Egypt is worried about: That the split between Hamas’ regime in the Gaza Strip and the Fatah’s regime in the West Bank will allow Israel to reduce it's assistance to the Gaza Strip which would naturally impose this burden on Gaza southern neighbor – Egypt.
Read the whole thing.

For those who have forgotten, the picture is a Hamas terrorist 'operating' the Rafah border crossing with Egypt during the 2007 coup. Obviously, Egypt didn't let anyone in then.

For the last five years, we have not had a clear policy on what we want in Gaza. Maybe it's time to decide.


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