Monday, October 13, 2014

The Gaza Donor's Conference

The Gaza Donor's Conference is taking place in Cairo, under the sponsorship of the Egyptian Government headed by Gen. Al Sisi, but without the presence of Israel.  This is ridiculous, since Israel is central to any reconstruction in Gaza, and most of the goods needed for the rebuilding work must be routed through Israel.  However, some Arab States, particularly Qatar, refused to attend if Israel was present, and Qatar has pledged to donate b$1 to the reconstruction of Gaza.  Since Qatar has been bankrolling Hamas in its war against Israel, this runs counter to the strong opinions expressed by the Western representatives in Cairo, that any donations must be linked to a pledge by the Palestine Authority and Israel to restart peace negotiations.  For example, US Secty of State Kerry and Quartet representative Tony Blair made this a feature of their speeches, that there is no point in rebuilding Gaza if we will be back in a few years again asking for donations to rebuild Gaza once again after the next round of hostilities.  Gen. Al-Sisi proposed to renew the Arab Peace Initiative, which was unacceptable to Israel in its original form.
But, although the PA was represented at the Conf. by Pres. Abbas, Hamas was also not represented, even by the so-called Unity Government of the PA.  So both the actual parties to the recent war are not represented at the conference, so the likelihood of any improvement of the situaton before the resonstruction of Gaza and then another round of hostilities and destruction of Gaza is essentially nil.  The only positive feature of the Conf. apart from collecting money to reconstruct Gaza, is that the money should be channeled through the PA, which until now has been excluded from Gaza since the Hamas coup of 2007.  If the PA holds the actual funds can they be trusted (a big if) not to allow the funds to be diverted once again to rearming Hamas, rebuilding its attack tunnels under Israel's border and preparing for the next round of hostilities against Israel.  But, since the PA is now in a Unity Govt. with Hamas and since Pres. Abbas has rejected further bilateral negotiations with Israel in favor of unilateral moves at the UN for a Palestine State, this is not likely.
Only two things can be stated with any confidence, first Israel will not attack Gaza without provocation, second Israel will not allow open borders with Gaza that would allow them to import arms, rockets and building materials with which to rebuild their military infrastructure.  If the international community wants Israel to remove the blockade of Gaza they must provide believable guarantees that building materials will not be diverted and that arms and other military materiel will not be imported under the guise of reconstruction, as they were in the past.  It doesn't matter how much money is pledged for reconstruction of Gaza, if Israel's valid security interests are not taken into account, this will be an exercise in futility.


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