The Western blindness

Danny Rubinstein, Haaretz, January 29:

The evil begins in Gaza. The statistics are familiar: a crowded and besieged strip of land, largely cut off from the world, with an impoverished population lacking any economic future, political horizon and social infrastructure. The Palestinians have not succeeded in creating a government of law and order in Gaza, with an economic foundation.

But Israeli governments are also to blame for what is happening in Gaza. The Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip began about 17 years ago, in the wake of vigilante knifings and the first Gulf War. In the Oslo Accords Israel promised to maintain territorial contiguity between Gaza and the West Bank. There were several attempts to create such contiguity, but they were not implemented. On the Israeli side this was a blatant violation of the accords. Because of security fears, Israel prevented the regular operation of the airport in Gaza, and piled obstacles in the way of the construction of the seaport. The result: Besieged and impoverished Gaza became an economic, social and political pressure cooker.

The partially open border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt does not help Gaza economically; its only chance is forging some kind of connection to Israel. A regular connection between Gaza and the West Bank is, in effect, the only way of restraining the power and influence of Hamas, which is strong in Gaza and weak in the West Bank. The more Gaza has become disconnected from the West Bank, the more the Hamas regime has become entrenched there.…