How to bring peace to Gaza

TSAFRIR ABAYOV / ASSOCIATED PRESS An Israeli soldier looks out from his tank near the Gaza border.
TSAFRIR ABAYOV / ASSOCIATED PRESS An Israeli soldier looks out from his tank near the Gaza border.
Posted: August 08, 2014

ANOTHER ROUND of fighting in Gaza has ended in the usual way - a military victory for Israel, the "good publicity" of dead Palestinians for Hamas, which ignited the miniwar by raining missiles on the Jewish state that Hamas is sworn to destroy.

With a limited and shaky cease-fire in place, the two sides will be dragged to a table to devise a sham that will pass for "peace."

This will be followed by another round of begging the "international community" for billions to help rebuild battered Gaza.

The U.S. can't give money directly to Hamas because it is a terrorist organization - designated as such by the U.S., the European Union, Israel and others. Money would be funneled through the Palestinian Authority, headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called moderate. The good effect is to give him the money hammer to use on Hamas, his frenemy.

But strings-free money would repeat past mistakes - cash for reconstruction spent on missiles and tunnels.

I'd like the West to demand Hamas recognize Israel as a "price" for the aid, but Hamas wouldn't agree and I wouldn't believe it if it did. It would mean denouncing its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.

A better idea is for the U.S., when announcing its aid package, to say: For every missile fired from Gaza at Israel, we will deduct $1 million from the gift. For every terror tunnel discovered, that's minus $10 million.

This is predicated on the U.S. doling the money out over time, and having inspectors ensure the money is spent on infrastructure, not arms. Each U.S. ally would make the same pledge: Gaza gets money as long as it maintains the calm. Each violation of the calm would have monetary consequences. Reward good behavior, punish bad.

It's a win-win. If Hamas is tamed, we have a better peace than in the past. If Hamas chooses missiles over peace, Gazans and the entire world will see how hateful and nihilistic it is.

So clean, so simple, who could disagree?

For one, Steve Feldman, executive director of the local Zionist Organization of America, who doesn't like my plan because "it's punishing them after the fact instead of finding a way to preempt an attack."

Besides, "Iran, Qatar and even Turkey could resupply whatever America cuts." I envision cuts from many nations, but your idea, Steve?

Demilitarize Gaza and get the Palestinian Authority to turn off the torrent of hate being taught in schools and mosques, not just hate of Israelis, but of Jews.

Another "no" vote is cast by Palestinian-American Osama Al-Qasem, a sales and marketing executive and sometime spokesman for Palestinians.

"You are putting on a Band-Aid. You are not solving the underlying problem of why the rockets are being fired in the first place," he says.

And that reason is?

"We are talking a strip that has been under siege from air, land and water since [Jewish Prime Minister] Ariel Sharon withdrew the settlements in 2005," says Osama.

The Israeli response would be that there was no blockade in 2005. That started after Hamas took control and started firing rockets.

I ask Osama for his proposal. "Open up the border, open up trade, solve the occupation and free movement of Palestinians," he says.

That will end the rockets?

"If that solution is implemented, I would call it a miracle," he says. I agree.

But would it stop the rockets? He says yes. I disagree.

Neither side likes my idea. It has promise.


Email: stubyko@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5977

On Twitter: @StuBykofsky

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