Gaza and Egyptian standards

Mohamed Kamal
Thursday 30 Nov 2023

There is a perspective that considers it premature to discuss in detail the future of Gaza now, as the war continues.

 

Despite humanitarian ceasefires, there is an Israeli determination to return to fighting, making it challenging to predict the future outcome and consequences of the war.

Here, I present another perspective based on the idea that many countries and global think tanks have started proposing visions and scenarios for Gaza's future. Some leaders of these countries have discussed these proposals with Arab officials.

This development requires us to understand and engage with external ideas, asserting our own standards that may align or differ, primarily reflecting our national interests.

Given the current reality, our national interests, and the ideas presented, the following criteria can be proposed for dealing with Gaza's future.

First, the return of Israeli occupation to Gaza cannot be accepted, even for a short or transitional period. The idea of Israeli reoccupation is gaining strength within the extreme Israeli right, with some advocating for the return of settlements in Gaza.

There are indications of Israel's desire to continue occupying Gaza for some time after the fighting stops, possibly by destroying almost the entire northern part of Gaza and displacing its residents southward to reduce resistance in the future.

Israel's stance on not allowing the return of residents during the humanitarian ceasefire and warning them not to return, claiming it remains a war zone, supports this idea. Israel's plan to destroy infrastructure in the north implies that even if the fighting stops, residents cannot return to areas where homes and services have been destroyed.

It is likely that Israel will use its occupation of Gaza as a bargaining chip, whether to release more hostages, especially military ones, or to ensure Hamas will not participate in any future arrangements for managing Gaza.

Despite these Israeli plans, it is crucial, as an Egyptian standard, to reject Israel's return to occupying Gaza or reducing its area by creating Israeli security zones within and along its borders, necessitating Israel's complete withdrawal from Gaza.

Second, any ideas concerning Gaza's future must include an end to the Israeli blockade, reopening the airport and seaport, contributing to the return of normal life for Gaza residents, and stimulating the economic wheel.

Third, ideas related to internationalizing Gaza must be approached cautiously. There may be an opportunity to go to the Security Council and issue a resolution on the Palestinian issue as a whole, not just Gaza, recognizing a Palestinian state within the framework of a two-state solution and on the borders prior to 5 June 1967.

However, caution is required regarding some ideas circulating in Western capitals, resorting to international decisions concerning the future administration of Gaza, and determining governance arrangements.

Previous experiences in the Arab world illustrate the failure of such international intervention in determining governance arrangements and appointing international envoys who complicated problems more than solving them. Amending these international decisions now requires an agreement that no longer exists, leading these experiences into a perpetual dilemma, serving the interests of external parties without solving the problem.

Fourth, when thinking about security arrangements for the sector, it is conceivable to consider the presence of international peacekeeping forces, whether United Nations forces (so-called blue zones on the borders, as in the case of Lebanon) or multinational forces. However, accepting such international forces and maintaining Israel's role in Gaza's security remains challenging.

It is also important to be cautious about some countries seeking to establish areas of influence within Gaza by declaring their willingness to participate in multinational forces or ensuring arrangements for managing the sector, affecting Egyptian national security considerations.

Fifth, any arrangements related to Gaza's future are destined to fail if not linked to governance arrangements in the West Bank and are not part of a comprehensive vision for solving the Palestinian issue, based on establishing a disarmed Palestinian state. Therefore, ideas related to Gaza must be connected to a vision for a comprehensive settlement, not only for the Palestinian issue but also for the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the importance of reconnecting the two issues.

A comprehensive settlement and the establishment of a Palestinian state are not impossible. Many ideas have been proposed, including President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's suggestion of a demilitarized Palestinian state with international security arrangements. Other creative ideas relate to the issue of Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, and more. The international community should not only talk about establishing a Palestinian state but also create a serious path and roadmap to achieve it.

*The writer is a professor of political science at Cairo University.

 

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