Meron Benvenisti: Cease-fire between Israel and Gaza will make Gaza the Palestinian State

From an article written by Meron Benvenisti and published in Haaretz:

“[P]paradoxically the right, which strives to destroy Hamas, needs to support the cease-fire and the establishment of Hamas control in Gaza. And the left, which supports a single state led by Fatah, needs to object to the establishment of a separate government in Gaza.

“The cease-fire accompanied by an agreement on the crossings, and in particular the opening of the Rafah crossing, will help Hamas to cement its control over Gaza. They will establish their own organization, which will grow and spread and become permanent – and distance themselves from the government in the West Bank. It seems that the cease-fire, even if it is fragile, will mark a point of no return in the splitting off of the Gaza Palestinians into a separate authority.

“It is possible to pretend that the main battle is against Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Israel. It is also possible to blame Israel, whose consistent policies led to the detachment of Gaza and the Hamas takeover. It is also possible to claim that the split between the West Bank and Gaza is structural and the Palestinians of the West Bank always feared being flooded by Gazans, and that is why they never protested too loudly against the nonimplementation of the safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank.

“Whether we give Israel credit for a sophisticated strategy that produced results, or whether we call the result a coincidence, it is clear that the additional split in the Palestinian people serves long-term Israeli interests.

“The isolation of a million and a half Gazans allows indirect, outside control. This could be replaced – after a long period of violence and blockade – by a policy of nonintervention, and even indirect aid for economic development, as a way to divert human resources from violence to constructive channels.

“The accessibility to the outside world, by land and sea, and an efficient and uncorrupt government are likely to turn that piece of land into the Palestinian state.

“The other Palestinian canton, whose area is getting smaller and smaller due to the spread of the settlements, now has 2 million people and is considered the heartland of the Palestinian people. But it is quickly turning into an adjunct of Israel for all practical purposes, and it is experiencing political processes similar to those experienced by Israeli Arabs since 1948.

“These processes will be exposed when the Palestinian Authority falls apart on its own, once the Gaza cease-fire gives it a fatal blow.

“This is the system of divide and conquer that will enable Israeli control over the long term. Its cornerstone is the isolation of Gaza…”

Benvenisti’s full analysis can be read in Haaretz here .

Today in Gaza

Going into Gaza this morning, we passed through the big new — and mostly empty, due to the closure — Erez Terminal (style = airport terminal, but with more overhead monitoring and a wierd body x-ray machine you must pass through, feet spread apart, hands held high up in the air, for your return to Israel). After getting through the passport control (Do you have another passport? Why didn’t you bring it with you? Why did you choose to enter Israel with this passport?  Why did you choose to enter Israel with this passport?  Why did you leave your other passport in Jerusalem? Why did you leave your other passport in Jerusalem? Why did you leave your other passport in Jerusalem???? — until a supervisor intervened), Israelis with sleek automatic rifles, held pointed down close to the body along their sides, but their fingers on the trigger ran towards us and told us in Hebrew (luckily I was with some Israeli Arabs who translated) to move back, move back, there are incoming rockets and there is a safe area in the back.

At the end of the day, a journalist and NGO researcher who joined the touring NGO group of physicians I was with, received an SMS message on his mobile saying that two Palestinians had been killed — a man and a woman — by an Israeli attack in retaliation for the morning’s Qassam attack.

There is a new Palestinian coordination point for passport control — the first in six months, since Hamas routed Fatah security in mid-June. It is a little field office, with welders working on iron bars that held up plastic ribbed roofing, and probably future crowd control barriers. The man inside said that he works with the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Civil Affairs in Ramallah (!!!!). At the end of the day, as Erez was almost closed, we saw him walking back to the Palestinian posts (about a half-kilometer away) from the Israeli border terminal — just part of the job, the end of the day report.

Meantime, the IDF spokesperson reported this evening, in an email advisory sent to journalists, that “The [Israeli] Commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brigadier General Noam Tivon, and the [Israeli] Head of the Civil Administration, Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, met today with a delegation of the heads of the Palestinian security apparatus led by Hasin A-Sheh, the Minister for Civil Affairs in the Palestinian Authority. The meeting took place in a positive atmosphere as the two sides discussed security issues and the coordination of security and civil affairs. Coordination meetings, such as these, take place occasionally; however, this was the first time in seven years that the meeting was held in Ramallah”.

Of course, this coordination meeting just happened a day before U.S. President George W. Bush visits the West Bank — so they had something to talk about besides the new atmosphere of cooperation at the very farthest Israeli edge of Erez Checkpoint. I’ll bet the Israelis are making damn sure that Bush won’t be attacked or assassinated while here …

Meanwhile, while there is one big step forward, with the new signs of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation (Hamas said they could live with Fatah/PA people manning the checkpoints in Gaza, in order to make them functional so people can get in and out), there are two steps backwards: Israel appears to be giving bird flu vaccinations and other medicines only to the West Bank, and not to Gaza — as if bird flu would magically stop at the border, if anyone in Gaza got infected. In another email message sent around to the press, the IDF spokesman reported that “In light of the discovery of the ‘Avian Influenza’ (bird flu) in Israel , the Civil Administration is preparing to provide assistance to aid in the early discovery of the virus in order to prevent the disease’s spread in Judea and Samaria [this means West Bank] region. The Civil Administration will coordinate the delivery of samples from birds in the Judea and Samaria [West Bank] region for examination in Israeli laboratories, via the Palestinian Authority (PA). In addition, the Civil Administration continuously works to prevent the spread of various diseases. For example, last Thursday, January 3rd, 2008, the Civil Administration coordinated the passage of over 50,000 doses of vaccine against foot and mouth disease to the PA”.