Israel's New Gaza Policy: Winners, Losers and is PM Netanyahu still on the Gangplank?

Dr. Aaron Lerner - IMRA Analysis - June 20, 2010

THE WINNERS from Israel's new Gaza policy liberalizing the system by which civilian goods enter Gaza:

  • The residents of the Gaza Strip: to the extent that goods are cheaper via Israel than the tunnels (some high tax items like cigarettes aren't)

  • The PA in Ramallah: benefit from the increased VAT and duty collected by Israel on goods transshipped via Ashdod to the Gaza Strip

  • Israeli suppliers


    Hamas and the Gaza tunnel industry: from the drop in revenues and the possibility that access to construction and other material will be wrested from the control of Hamas.

    Isn't Hamas a winner? There was no indication that the previous policy was going to either bring down the Hamas regime (they aren't shy about repressive measures) or cause them to release Gilad Shalit. If anything, the change in policy marks an end to the fantasy that such measures could bring Hamas down. A fantasy that served to paper over the glaring absence of a clear vision as to what Israel should do about Hamas when the opportunity presents itself.

    Like do what? Like actually decimate the Hamas leadership (if the IDF isn't able to do this in such a small enclosed and mostly flat area if that is the goal that is set for a campaign then we have problems considerably greater than Hamas to worry about).

    Suggesting that Israeli soldiers might give their lives so that Fatah takes over the Gaza Strip?

    No. Suggesting that Israeli soldiers might die sending Hamas terrorists to Paradise. What initially happens after that may very well be of secondary importance. After all, the same troops that dispatch Hamas terrorists can also battle Fatah terrorists if and when it comes to that.

    Will today's decision take Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu off of President Obama's gangplank?

    This may be up to Netanyahu as much as it is up to Obama.

    Look for signs of the gangplank at the upcoming visit to Washington:

  • Will Netanyahu say something about a Palestinian state that reduces his remaining centimeter of wiggle room to a millimeter?
  • Will Netanyahu say something destructively ambiguous about post freeze settlement construction?

    A suggestion: The best way for Binyamin Netanyahu to demonstrate that he doesn't feel he is on the gangplank (or in the penalty box) is by showing this in the discussions held in preparation for the meeting. And the simplest way to make this clear is by putting the release of Jonathan Pollard on the agenda. Not as one of 20 talking points on a list to rattle through at a meeting but as someone to come back on the plane with.

    President Obama can't release Gilad Shalit. But he can free Pollard with the stroke of a pen. Yes, there are some very senior people who repeat the mantra that the American security establishment simply won't let it happen. But we aren't talking about an American president who takes marching orders from the security establishment. If anything, all the characteristics of Obama's method of operation that may otherwise be problematic actually set the stage for him to sign off on the release.

    Releasing Pollard is one of the few moves, that President Obama can make for Israel's benefit that does not require an expensive counterbalancing gesture to the Arabs.

    Here's hoping that our prime minister does indeed demonstrate, when he visits the White House, that he is off the gangplank.

    Because if you stay too long on the gangplank you can ultimately find that instead of stepping off you are pushed off. --

    Dr. Aaron Lerner is the of Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)

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