Feb 09 2009

Palestinians Unsure Which Israeli Leader Will Keep Gaza and the West Bank United

Published by at 9:32 am under Articles,Palestinian politics

by Daoud Kuttab
The biggest national concern of Palestinians today is to make sure that the Israeli attempts to split Gaza from the West Bank doesn’t become permanent. Egypt and the Palestinian Authority have been made to look bad in the eyes of the Arab world because of their refusal to fall for the trap to make Egyptians responsible for Gaza and possibly Jordan to take care of the West Bank thus destroying the possibility of an independent Palestinian states with contiguity.

For years now the Israeli government has been carefully and methodically trying to permanently cut of the future Palestinian state’s two geographical parts. Attempts by the former US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to regulate the movement of people and good between Gaza and the West Bank failed to materialize.

The Israelis used the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, to make near permanent the ban of movement between Gaza and the West Bank leaving Gazans in economic and humanitarian catastrophe.

While the head of the Israeli Labor Party, Ehud Barak has stated that he favors a tunnel connecting the West Bank and Gaza, the issue has not received much traction among the two leading candidates for Prime Minister, Kadima’s Livni and the Likud’s Netanyahu.

The two state-solution has gathered international consensus repeated this week during the first speech of the US Vice President Joe Biden. Few people have paid attention to the word “territorial contiguity.” All international public statement about the two state solution (including those made by former president Bush) spoke of a viable independent Palestinian state with contiguity alongside Israel.

Palestinians hope the new Israeli government would also deal with these many issues that affect their lives as all wait for a political breakthrough on the larger issues.
For Palestinians many other issues remain to be resolved by the upcoming elections. Permanent status negotiations have been held up because of disagreements on Jerusalem and the fair solution of the Palestinian refugee problem. Settlements and their expansion continue to be a sour point in all talks. Hundreds of checkpoints and Israel’s continued refusal to return to the pre-October 2000 positions are also part of the problem between both sides.

While the results of the coming Israeli elections are important, the most important new element in the formula is the new administration in Washington. The decisive victory of the anti-Iraq war and pro-talks with Iran nominee will no doubt have a major influence on the US-Israel relations vis-a-vis the peace process. The appointment of the anti-settlements Senator George Mitchell and his decision to open an office in Jerusalem speaks volumes as to what the new Israeli government should expect from the Obama administration.

The Arab world is also in a state of flux after an emotional 22 days of constant bombardment of Gaza and the powerful pictures of the carnage on television. Millions of Arabs took to the streets and an entire region was angry by the inability of anyone to stop the daily carnage in Gaza that a huge schism has been created. Regimes such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority were in a state of retraction from their moderate and accommodating positions.

At times one gets the feeling that Israelis are oblivious to many of these issues as they try to compete amongst themselves who is tougher in dealing with Palestinians. One would hope that once the results are tallied that the real problems between Israelis and Palestinians will be given time by the newly elected officials.

One response so far

One Response to “Palestinians Unsure Which Israeli Leader Will Keep Gaza and the West Bank United”

  1. yisrael medadon 09 Feb 2009 at 2:17 pm

    If you insist that Gaza and the WB (Judea & Samaria) are one unit, and I know, that’s what’s written in the Oslo Accords – as well as the Mandate, – why not work to unite with Jordan as well?

    And about “contiguity” – that does sound to Israelis more like “we’ve got you surrounded”.

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