At the conclusion of the recent donors’ conference for Gaza, which Norway co-hosted, Foreign Minister Boerge Brende proudly announced, “The participants pledged approximately $5.4 billion (4.3 billion euros) “. Half of the pledges will go for Gaza reconstruction and the rest as unspecified aid to the Palestinians, he said.
The stated goal of the conference is to finance the reconstruction of parts of the Gaza region that were destroyed in the July-August war between Israel and Hamas. Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned that no financial aid will be sent to Gaza without Israel’s approval. Any concerned observer has to wonder who to believe and whose words to trust.
Now that we have reached this post-war stage, in which the Palestinian Authority (PA) Hamas-Fatah unity government is trying to reap the political/financial rewards of the most recent conflict, it would be wise for Israel to learn the lessons, lest the terrorists collect the dividends.
Although many Israelis disagree, one can reasonably assert that the Gaza war was a military victory for Israel, but it certainly was a political-strategic loss. The primary demand made by Israel at the end of the fighting was that Gaza be demilitarized as a condition for rehabilitation. This has not happened, nor does it appear that it will happen. No mention was made of demilitarization at the recent conference and Hamas has reaffirmed over and over again that not one gun will be taken away from its fighters. Meanwhile, Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been conspicuously silent about his formerly iron-clad condition of demilitarization.
Furthermore, rumors are rampant about an impending prisoner swap between Israel and Hamas that will include the release of hundreds of living Hamas terrorist prisoners, in exchange for the bodies of the two dead Israeli soldiers. If history repeats itself, which it usually does, those released terrorists will soon be active again, as we saw with the terrorists released in the infamous Gilad Shalit deal, most of whom quickly returned to terrorist activity, and many of whom were rearrested during the Gaza fighting. It should be obvious that if they are released again, they will speedily return to their professional terrorist activity, which is heavily funded by the PA.
Meanwhile, Netanyahu will make some empty, but impressive-sounding threats on American television and Lieberman will make some vacuous statements about how his word is his word, but after some quiet negotiation and American assurances of the PA’s peaceful intentions, all threats will be forgotten.
At least a portion of the promised billions will flow into Gaza, and at least a portion of those funds will go towards renewed terrorist infrastructure and the purchase or manufacture of new weaponry. Simultaneously, the released terrorists will quietly “go back to work”, with terrorist salaries paid by the PA, and Defense Minister Ya’alon will promise to “hit them hard” and to “respond forcefully” if the rockets start falling again.
Am I perhaps being overly cynical? I honestly wish that were so, but the lessons of past ceasefires and “peace plans” tell us otherwise. Unless Israel’s flawed behavior patterns of the past are corrected, history will repeat itself.
Reprinted with author’s permission