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Giora Eiland
Photo: Tomerico
Time to face facts on West Bank and Gaza
Opinion: Israel must halt its policy of 'managing' the conflict with the Palestinians, and go back to finding an actual solution to it, which means accepting Hamas as Gaza's rulers

For the past 13 years, Israel has claimed there was no impediment to talking with the Palestinian Authority on a variety of issues from security arrangements to economic or civilian arrangements.

 

 

But an entire Palestinian territory is ruled by Hamas, a terror organization not recognized by Israel. Therefore, Israel will not directly communicate with it. This is a mistake. 

 

Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar in Gaza
Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar in Gaza

 

Hamas is not only a terror organization. It is first and foremost the government of the Gaza Strip, an independent political entity that unfortunately for Israel sits on its southern border.

 

Bordering countries always have shared interests, and those shared by Israel and Hamas are greater than Israel has been willing to admit. When rockets are fired from Gaza, regardless of Palestinian faction affiliation, Israel holds Hamas responsible. If Hamas is responsible for all things military, why are they not considered responsible for all things civilian?

 

Islamic Jihad is another story. It is a terror group and not a civilian-facing organization. It is completely funded by Iran and shares Iranian interests, and has no political responsibility. Islamic Jihad is under no obligation to hold its fire, unless the government of Gaza -  Hamas - is motivated by its own interests to force it to do so.

 

Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala
Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala
 

 

Hamas will choose to restore calm when Israel makes a big enough concession.

 

If Hamas is financially incentivized, on the one hand, and if it is recognized as the de facto government of Gaza on the other, ensuring all reconstruction and development in Gaza is done in coordination with it, then events along the border, often serving as triggers for escalation of violence, will stop.

 

Another factor to be considered is the crisis around the Palestinian Authority's tax revenue.

 

After Israel unilaterally decided to withhold funds that matched the sums given to families of convicted terrorists, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to accept any of the tax revenue, demanding the release of all funds. The financial deficit created by Israel's actions resulted in a slashing of funds for Gaza.

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Reuters)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Reuters)

 

The consecutive governments of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ever since he was re-elected in 2009, decided to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of solving it.

 

And although this policy is not without cause, it comes with a price.

 

In order to maintain quiet along the Gaza border and in the West Bank, two basic rules must be observed: The fulfilment of what Netanyahu called "an economic peace" and refraining from any kind of unilateral action.

 

 Smoke trails left by rockets fired from Gaza at Israel (Photo: AFP)
Smoke trails left by rockets fired from Gaza at Israel (Photo: AFP)

 

Things could easily get out of hand, if there are casualties on the Israeli side of the Gaza border or a lethal terror attack in the West Bank.

 

As far a policy is concerned, it is time to strive for an honorable solution on the matter of the taxes that Abbas is refusing to take, and the financial crisis in the Gaza strip. Such a solution can include an agreement to keep the Gaza border quiet.

 


פרסום ראשון: 05.11.19, 18:23
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