Photo: AP
Not Israel's responsibility: Gazan workers
Photo: AP
Letting go of Gaza
Israel must treat Gaza workers as foreign residents
Everyone knows the Egyptian-Palestinian border at Rafah has been opened; everyone also knows it won't be easy for Israel to wash its hands from controlling the border.


Not everyone knows that Palestinians wanting to enter Egypt are required to obtain entry visas. Yet Israel continues to allow thousands of Gazans to enter the country every day for work.


The Egyptians are right – and we are wrong. As long as Gaza was under Israeli jurisdiction, there was some logic – perhaps even some responsibility – to allow Gaza residents to work in Israel, despite the fact that the issue carried with it both security risk and humiliating security checks.


But Gaza is no longer under Israeli control. It is another country in every way.


Letting go of cheap labor, lordship


Egyptians or Jordanians wanting to visit Israel are required to obtain entry visas, and for those wanting to work here, the issue is far from simple. What is the difference between them and residents of Gaza?


After some 40 years, it is tough for Israel – and for Israeli employers who prefer cheap, unorganized Palestinian labor – to wean itself off the feelings of control and lordship over Gaza.


This is occasionally wrapped in economic or humanitarian arguments: There is no work in Gaza, we've got to help the economy.


That may be true, but it is entirely irrelevant. There are also job shortages in Jordan and Egypt - countries we have peace treaties with – and we have an interest in ensuring unemployment does not lead to extremism. But we all agree this is not our responsibility.


Gaza, too, is no longer our responsibility.


Gaza: Another country 


Of course Israel has an interest in Gaza's economic development and reducing human suffering for its residents. But Israel can contribute to this process by encouraging international – and Arab, such as Saudi –groups to invest in developing the Gaza Strip and creating economic infrastructure there.


Cheap work in Israel is not a solution to poverty in Gaza, and will only perpetuate reliance on Israel.


The Gaza disengagement was a difficult, but wise, move. But it will not be complete until Israel internalizes the fact that Gaza residents – and eventually West Bank residents – are no different than citizens of any other Arab country.


If we need workers from Gaza, they must be subject to entry visas and work permits – just like other foreigners wanting to work in Israel. When Israelis can safely visit Gaza – with entry visas – then we can talk about reciprocation.


Get this fact into your head: Gaza is another country. In every way, and for all purposes.


פרסום ראשון: 12.07.05, 09:25
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