While a new French reality program pits Israelis and Palestinians under constant watch to learn more about the other (and hopefully not worsen stereotypes), the New York Times decides to finally report on the inevitable: the siege on Gaza has failed and perhaps a different strategy should be employed. But note the tone. Israel was simply trying to protect itself and now, with a heavy heart, must turn to different methods to manage the situation:
Three years after Israel and Egypt imposed an embargo on this tormented Palestinian strip, shutting down its economy, a consensus has emerged that the attempt to weaken the governing party, Hamas, and drive it from power has failed.
In the days since an Israeli naval takeover of a flotilla trying to break the siege turned deadly, that consensus has taken on added urgency, with world powers, anti-Hamas Palestinians in Gaza and some senior Israeli officials advocating a shift.
In its three years in power, Hamas has taken control of not only security, education and the justice system but also the economy, by regulating and taxing an extensive smuggling tunnel system from Egypt. In the process, the traditional and largely pro-Western business community has been sidelined.
This may be about to change.
“We need to build a legitimate private sector in Gaza as a strong counterweight to extremism,” Tony Blair, who serves as the international community’s liaison to the Palestinians, said in an interview. The views of Mr. Blair, a former prime minister of Britain, reflected those of the Obama administration as well. “To end up with a Gaza that is dependent on tunnels and foreign aid is not a good idea,” he said.
Businesspeople in Gaza say that by closing down legitimate commerce, Israel has helped Hamas tighten its domination. And by allowing in food for shops but not goods needed for industry, Israel is helping keep Gaza a welfare society, the sort of place where extremism can flourish.