Monday, April 18, 2005

A State of Dependence based on a Culture of Dependence

David Horovitz writes in the Jerusalem Post concerning Israeli economic proposals to the Palestinian Authority and the Abbas administrations deafening silence to Israeli proposals for economic well-being of the future Palestinian state:
No fewer than eight highly specific "economic overtures" have been made to the PA. All have been either ignored or rejected, as follows:

Israel has offered to build a rail link between the West Bank and Gaza, enabling the uninterrupted flow of people and goods between the two areas. The PA has yet to respond to the idea. Israel has offered to build a rail link from Erez to Ashdod, enabling quick and efficient transfer of Gaza export items to the port of Ashdod for exports to Europe and elsewhere. The PA has yet to respond to the idea. Israel has offered to coordinate the running of the Erez crossing with the PA in order to facilitate the passage of Palestinians and their merchandise from Gaza to Israel. The PA has yet to respond to the idea.

Israel has offered to discuss with the PA the resumption of the operation of the Erez industrial park, which, prior to the intifada, provided jobs to thousands of Gaza Palestinians and a livelihood to tens of thousands of their family members. The PA has yet to respond to the idea.

Israel has offered to discuss the completion and operation of the Gaza seaport – admittedly a project of little economic benefit to the Palestinians given the minimal distance from Gaza to the very modern Port of Ashdod, but one of great symbolic importance to the Palestinians. The PA has yet to respond to the idea.
Israel has offered to discuss with the PA the admission to Israel on a daily basis of tens of thousands of Palestinian workers from Gaza and the West Bank after the completion of the disengagement. The PA has yet to respond to the idea.

Israel has offered to discuss with the PA the construction of new roads for the use of the Palestinians in the West Bank, where the road infrastructure is antiquated and woefully inadequate. Although Israel has made clear that it would allow the PA to designate the locations and routes of the new roads, the PA has described Israel's offer as a scheme for consolidating its hold over the West Bank and has refused to discuss it.

Israel has offered to coordinate with the PA the economic aspects of the disengagement. Such coordination would ensure that the Palestinians would get the hothouses and other agricultural and industrial assets left behind by the Gaza settlers intact and ready to operate, to the great benefit of the Palestinian economy. The PA has thus far refused to discuss such coordination, thereby endangering the integrity of those assets after the Israeli withdrawal.
So, why the silence? Horovitz suggests two possible answers:
The Israeli assessment, as communicated by Sharon's people to Washington, is that the PA is deliberately eschewing the overtures because it accurately recognizes that Israel is pulling out anyway and feels it has little to gain in overtly facilitating a calm departure.

The wider Israeli assessment is more depressing still, running as follows: While Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have determined that their interests are not served by concertedly attacking Israelis in the pre-disengagement period, to avoid delaying the pullout, no such constraints will apply once the troops and settlers have gone. The current relative lull, therefore, is unlikely to extend beyond the Israeli pullout.

On the Palestinian side, chaos rather than hostility is advanced as the root cause of the failure to respond to the various Israeli initiatives. Where Israel sees rejection and antipathy, Palestinian sources say, the reality is one of near-anarchy and weakness – Abbas's. However well-intentioned, Abbas is preoccupied with mere survival, conscious of public dissatisfaction over the absence of reforms, worried by Hamas's potential to threaten Fatah at the ballot box, and battling against his Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's relentless efforts to undermine him. Far from a strategy of refusal to cooperate, the sources say, there is no clear strategy whatsoever over how to interact with Israel over disengagement or, for that matter, over how to deal with the post-disengagement reality.
But another idea occurred to me reading this Toronto Star report on Abbas’ alleged offer of help and cooperation with the Gaza pull out.
The official attitude of the Palestinians could be crucial to the success of the operation, and Abbas said he would work with the Israelis, but only under certain conditions.

Speaking in Cairo after meeting Egypt's president, Abbas said, ``We are ready to co-ordinate with the Israelis completely. But we have to know where our feet are taking us, and whether (the disengagement) is tied to the `road map,' and whether they are complete withdrawals."

The road map is an internationally backed peace plan leading to a Palestinian state.
Dov Weisglass, a top aide to Sharon said, "We would of course welcome this step, and at the moment we receive a formal announcement, the channels of communication will open and will be immediately activated," he told Israel TV.

The two statements contain the seeds of disagreements that could scuttle joint planning, leaving the fates of the houses of the 8,500 settlers uncertain. Israel wants to turn the houses over to the Palestinians but only in the framework of full co-ordination of the evacuation.

Israel says its "disengagement" can be linked to the peace plan but insists that the Palestinians carry out their main commitment in the first phase of the plan — dismantling militant groups responsible for attacking Israelis during more than four years of violence. Abbas is moving toward co-opting militants into his security services, but it is not clear that Israel would accept that as "dismantling."

Also, a future dispute is emerging over responsibility for Gaza after the pullout. The United Nations and human rights groups already have said that Israel, even after it leaves, will be responsible for the 1.3 million poverty-stricken Palestinians in the crowded seaside territory because it will maintain control of its borders, airspace and sea coast.

Israel has been promoting joint economic projects and international assistance for Gaza after the pullout, but officials have said Israel would not be held responsible for the wellbeing of Palestinians.

The Palestinians are not and will not actively work towards their own state but prefer a state of constant dependence and are enabled to do so by the UN and other human rights organizations who advocate the position that Israel remains responsible for Palestinians in Gaza even once the Israelis have successfully evicted their own citizens from their homes and businesses in Gaza. A state and culture based on dependence rather than independence seems to be the goal. Who would have thought the world needs another welfare state?

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