Former IDF Central Command Chief Yair Naveh

Solving the Gaza problem

Long-term solution is to expand Gaza in exchange for West Bank land

In the story of the Egyptian Exodus it is customary to say that the Children of Israel were slaves. Therefore, more than the Israelites left slavery behind in Egypt, slavery had to be taken out of the Israelites. Hence, 40 years of wandering in the desert and the replacement of an entire generation was required. In a paraphrase of this logic by our Sages, we can ascertain that after leaving Gaza, more than leaving Gaza, we need to remove Gaza from ourselves.


The majority of the population is preoccupied with the Qassam rockets and whether a military campaign will indeed take place in Gaza or not, and whether it was the right thing to leave Gaza to begin with. These questions are relevant in the short and medium term. In the long term we ought to occupy ourselves with another question: How do we remove Gaza from within ourselves?


Our relationship with Gaza is suffering and will also suffer in the future (until a diplomatic agreement is reached) from the syndrome of the "poor neighbor," the one that sees his neighbor's greener grass from across the fence


Some 10 years ago various leaders in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority believed that a solution had been found and that Gaza would turn into the Singapore of the Middle East: Human capital, a sea port, oil, and hey presto we're in Singapore. Unfortunately, the situation is different: Gaza is barely Ashkelon's back garage.


Gaza is not just a security issue. It is primarily a demographic issue. Natural growth in the Gaza Strip is the highest in the world, and the population doubles every 15 years. At this rate, in some 10 years from now, the population there will reach 3 million, without land reserves, advanced agriculture, industry and technology, without higher education and without security.


Safe passage not the answer

Hence, in the long term, the only thing that will grow in Gaza, in addition to the population, is the frustration vis-à-vis the relative prosperity of Arabs residing in the West Bank, and in face of the Israeli neighbor's green grass.


There are those who believe that the solution lies in a "safe passage" that would connect Gaza and the West Bank. In the framework of my position as IDF Central Command chief, I have met several experts, including Palestinians residing in the West Bank, and it can be firmly ascertained that their main fear is the influx of Gazan youngsters into the West Bank.


They do not wish to see Gazans on the streets of Ramallah more than we do, affecting the economy, taking jobs, attacking women and determining new norms of veils and religious fanaticism. The "safe passage" is the Gazans' dream but the nightmare of the West Bank.


Hence, the real solution to Gaza is a diplomatic solution within Gaza, in which Egypt, Israel (or only Israel) would give part of the Negev and expand Gaza in exchange for land in the West Bank where Israelis reside. Expanding Gaza to the Negev in the Halutza and Tze'elim area would grant Gaza a future, land reserves and less of an affiliation to the West Bank. A solution of this type may prevent our situation vis-à-vis Gaza from turning from a temporary sore into a chronic ailment.


The current security problem with Gaza requires an immediate to medium-term solution; however, these measures should be part of a long-term solution. Then perhaps we shall be able to rid Gaza of ourselves.


פרסום ראשון: 10.03.07, 07:11
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