Friday, January 25, 2008

Off course in Gaza

graffiti Florentin

Israel's siege policy against the Hamas government in Gaza has swerved badly off course.
With the wall separating Gaza from Egypt (known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor) breached and Egyptian forces unable (meanwhile) to herd hundreds of thousands of Palestinians back into the Strip, it seems that a new era is unfolding.

Egypt, whether it likes it or not, may be increasingly forced to take responsibility for the million and a half Gazans on whom Israel badly wants to turn its back. It's unlikely that this is the result of some well conceived Israeli master plan. Much more plausible is that Hamas cleverly orchestrated both the telegenic electricity cuts and the breach of the wall at the height of the Israeli sanctions to score thereby global sympathy and the possibility of an open border with Egypt. Palestinian journalists have confirmed that at least one of the Hamas' tricks was to stage a candle-lit cabinet session (it was actually held during the day). The blowing up of the wall had been prepared months in advance - it was only a question of choosing the right time. Thus has Hamas scored a victory, proving that it cannot be ignored, winning the sympathy of the Arab masses, and pulling the rug from under Israel's Gaza policy all in one fell swoop.

graffiti in Florentin

With Hamas emerging strengthened after cleverly levering its weakness to the full, Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah will need more than ever to co-exist with Hamas. This will limit his room for manoeuvre in negotiations with Israel even further.

graffiti Carmel market

Some in Israel are almost jubilant that the pressure on Gaza has caused the fences around it to to buckle on the Egyptian side. But this poses a whole set of new problems and may place the already dormant "peace process" on ice for ages as the general Palestinian priority shifts back to more unity talks.

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