Qatari Sheikh Visits The Gaza Srtip


The Sheikh of Qatar made a historic and symbolic visit to the Gaza strip entering through Egypt.  This trip has troubling implications for both the Fatah controlled West Bank and for the Israel.  The emir was there to announce $250 million dollars in aid to Hamas, which will supposedly be used to build a “new housing development on the site of a former Israeli settlement, evacuated in 2005, and several new roads through the territory”.  Due to the Israeli blockade, Gaza has been plagued by a shortage of building materials.  What’s interesting about the visit is the balance that the Sheikh is attempting to pull off; friendship with Hamas while at the same time allowing US military bases in Qatar.  In fact, the US and Qatar signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement in 1991 after joint military operations during Desert Storm.  That agreement has since been expanded.  That’s quite the balancing act but as they say, politics and war, makes strange bedfellows.  The recognition of Hamas has the potential to drive an even deeper wedge between Hamas and the internationally recognized, Fatah.  Abbas, the Fatah leader in the West Bank said that “If this is a one-time visit, we can tolerate it. But we are concerned that  others will come and that will reinforce the split”.  Yasser Abed Rabbo, an  adviser to Abbas said, “No one should deal with Gaza as a separate entity from the  Palestinian territories and from the Palestinian Authority”.  Of course both men are looking at a large pile of money that they will not be sharing with Hamas.  Egypt, long a friend and partner to Israel is changing the rules of the game and that may lead to tensions with Israel.  One thing is certain, if the Israeli’s suspect or obtain evidence, weapons are being transported through Egypt in to Gaza, that will not be acceptable and conflict will be a certainty.  It may be however, in Israel’s and the region’s best interest if development is allowed in Gaza and the West Bank.  If a new housing development is built along with new roads and other infrastructure, it makes it less likely anyone will lob rockets it to Israel, since they would now have something to lose.  Most people, despite religious and cultural differences, at the end of the day want a good life for themselves and their families.  Of course there are the hate mongers, the Hitler’s who will never change their views, but if you believe a majority of people prefer peace, and stability, there is something to work with.  The greatest deterrent to war is not wanting to lose what you have.  What the Israeli’s don’t understand, is the better the lives of those in Gaza and the West Bank, the less likely are they to wage war. It’s the reason why it’s so easy to find suicide bombers in that part of the world.  Many young men have no hope, no future, so going to heaven is a better option.  A stable and thriving West Bank and Gaza will only help the stability in the region.  It may be just what Israel needs.  The status quo certainly hasn’t worked and can not continue.

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