From the perspective of Likud chief Benjamin Netanyahu, the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip proves that the right-wing stance was correct all along. Israel didn’t have to quit Gaza in 2005 or withdraw from Lebanon in 2000, Netanyahu says. The conclusion of Netanyahu and National Union’s Zvi Hendel is that Israel should not negotiate over either the Golan Heights or the West Bank, because Syrian President Bashar Assad is unreliable and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is weak.
Such a position makes it seem like rockets weren’t being fired on Sderot when Israel was deep in Gaza, and Hamas wouldn’t have taken control of the strip if the Gush Katif settlement bloc had remained in Israel’s hands. Except that if Israel had not withdrawn from Gaza, the Palestinian fire would have been aimed at the settlers, and the Israel Defense Forces would have paid a heavy price to protect them.
But Netanyahu and Hendel are not moved by the death toll. According to their thinking, we will still be living by our swords in another hundred years. They are also unmoved by the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. They think Israel was charitable toward the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza because the quality of their lives rose during the years of occupation.
But the facts indicate otherwise. In 1970, the gross national product in the West Bank was $250 per capita, and today it is $1,300 – five times as hi gh in nominal terms. During the same period, Jordan experienced 10-fold growth, going from $280 to $2,800.
Similarly, Gaza’s GNP rose from $170 per capita in 1970 to $1,000 today, growing six times, while the figure in Egypt rose from $200 to $1,800 – nine times. In other words, the Palestinians’ conditions under Israeli rule worsened compared with the region, not to mention the large gap between them and us. Israel’s GNP per capita is 20 times larger than the Palestinians’.
Israel has used the resources of the West Bank and Gaza shamefully, taking full advantage of the occupied areas. For years, Israel prevented the Palestinian territories from developing and setting up factories due to opposition from Israeli industrialists, but exploited the cheap and humiliated labor pool. Palestinians stood on endless lines at the Erez Crossing starting at 2 A.M. to land a day’s work in Israel. Israel also saw the 3.5 million residents of the West Bank and Gaza as a captive market for Israeli products, generally those of inferior quality. To this day, Israeli factories in the fashion industry continue to take advantage of the cheap labor in Gaza for simple sewing work.
UPDATE: Conflicts Forum helps unpack the current Palestinian situation:
So here is what will happen. The United States will fail to deliver. Some money will trickle in, but not nearly enough. The little that does trickle in will be spent unwisely. Israeli may remove some outposts, but only a few, and the settlements will continue to expand and settler roads will continue to be built and Palestinians will continue to die. Israelis will die too. A Palestinian security guard will be trained and it will march smartly through the streets of Ramallah. If it should exchange fire with a militia led by Hamas it will just as smartly be defeated. And if there is an election in “Fatahstine,” Hamas will win, while at the White House, Tony Snow will talk about how the outcome was engineered in Tehran. And nineteen months from now, in the waning days of the Bush Administration — with American foreign policy in tatters — Elliott Abrams and Keith Dayton will proudly stand alongside a smiling President Bush as he honors them, the newest recipients of the Medal of Freedom.