The collapses in Israel’s foreign relations status in the wake of the flotilla incident can be curbed immediately, and even be used for gaining a historic benefit, turning the events into a blessing in disguise.
The Israeli government should announce at once that it is willing to lift the naval blockade around the Strip, in exchange for an international monitoring regime. This regime shall have a clear mandate to inspect any ship arriving in Gaza and allow the transfer of civilian goods only, based on a precise list of goods. Israel will not be a party to this force, yet it shall be briefed on every shipment.
The moment we announce this, not only will the international pressure on Israel be lifted, but everything that happened here in the last days will be forgotten, and we’ll take the wind out of the sails of Israel haters. Negotiations on the establishment of the international force to be deployed off Gaza’s shores will take a few weeks, and shift Israel to a whole different international situation.
Indeed, the world will claim this is a victory against Israel, yet in face of the situation, why shouldn’t we let the world feel that it managed to persuade us? Israel is not an unresponsive state, but rather, a logical one; a state willing to show flexibility as long as its interests are being kept. The United States will supervise the negotiations, President Obama will register an achievement, and the world will breathe easy because this crisis is inconvenient for it as well.
So what shall we gain? First of all, the flotillas on the way here will become irrelevant, as international management will already be on the agenda. Moreover, all the international pressure will be lifted at once. Yet the truly great gain is still ahead of us: Should Gaza open to the world via the sea, there would no longer be a need for the crossings into Israel.
World will laud us
Israel will finally be able to shut down its crossings to the hostile Strip, without facing any global criticism. This will complete our disengagement forever. The world will laud us. And at the end of the day, this is what we want: To disengage from Gaza and the responsibility for it.
As the international mandate needs to be clear and strict, I prefer that the international force be the one to uncover illegal Hamas smuggling. Every such smuggling operation will merely get Hamas more entangled. Instead of Israel finding itself in a bind, Hamas will find itself in a bind. Each arms smuggling operation will merely reveal its true face and do the work for Israel.
This move should have been undertaken even before the flotilla incident, as this is a clear Israeli interest. Why should the Navy bothered to operate time and again when an international naval force can do it instead? The moment goods enter Gaza through the sea on a regular basis, the need for the smuggling tunnels will decline, which will make it easier for the Egyptians.
It’s easier to inspect every ship at sea, as opposed to smuggling operations on land. And so, every vessel headed to Gaza will be stopped at a regular junction, international inspectors will board it, examine it, and report what they found. Why should Israel confront Hamas’ lies? Let the world confront them. Instead of Israel getting further entangled, it will observe others do the job from the sidelines.
Indeed, by doing so Israel will perpetuate Hamas’ rule in the Strip; however, I prefer Hamas, which holds no negotiations with us, over the futile dialogue with the Palestinian Authority. The whole world will have to accept such solution, because the world is demanding it, and the State of Israel will join it and do the same now.
The time has come to leave the distress behind us and embark on the road to local and historical relief, shifting from a dogmatic attempt to seal off Gaza to conflict management. Should the solution proposed here be applied, the tables will turn: The anti-Israel flotilla came to curse Israel, but will end up blessing it.