February 22, 2007
Quartet Goes Gaga Over GazaBy David Singer
Gaza has all the trappings of a State except declared Statehood.
The 22 members of the Arab League and the Quartet - America, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union - have allowed this farce to continue for the last 18 months.
Gaza, larger in area than Malta, has a President, a Parliament, a Prime Minister, multiple police and security forces, a burgeoning bureaucracy, observers to every United Nations Committee you can think of, delegations to countries all around the world, a flag and an anthem and most important of all - not one Jew.
The 7000 Jews living in Gaza were forcibly removed from their homes and businesses 18 months ago. That they were so evicted by other Jews, supposedly for their own safety, is shameful. However given half a chance the Gazan Arabs would have done the job willingly They even boasted that it was their campaign of terror and violence that finally forced the Jews to leave.
Ethnic cleansing is apparently acceptable in international humanitarian law where Jews are the victims.
The violence against Jews has been replaced by the killing and intimidation of Gaza's now exclusively Arab citizenry, as Hamas and Fatah each battle to assert their authority over the other in an internecine struggle that shows no signs of abating.
The people without a land who had been yearning for a land for the last 40 years was suddenly in full possession and control of part of that land but just couldn't bring itself to utter the magic words of independence.
Figuratively speaking the jilted bride was left waiting at the mosque.
The occupation had ended, the occupiers had gone but the population acted as though nothing had changed.
There was no rejoicing and dancing in the streets, no hugs embraces and tears among the populace who now found themselves in full control of their destiny and self-determination.
There have been no exciting nation building programs implemented to give new direction and vision to Gaza's population.
Destruction, not creation, has become the buzzword in Gaza.
Sadly statehood is the last thing that Gaza wanted because it would put an end to the claim of statelessness, terminate the claim to refugee status by a large proportion of its population and signal the end of the perpetual financial support received from UNWRA since 1948.
Furthermore statehood might be taken to be an abandonment of further claims to any land that was formerly comprised in the Mandate of Palestine.
The reticence of the Arab League in these circumstances was misplaced. True, Statehood for Gaza would pull the rug from under the feet of this cartel and put pressure on it to end its refusal to recognize or negotiate with the State of Israel. But the League's policy of inaction and its' failure to call for statehood has seen Gaza's population become a killing field of ever growing proportions.
The Quartet however need not have been so coy. It had a different agenda aimed at solving "the Palestinian question" which it considered to be the most intractable problem in the Middle East.
The unexpected removal of all Jews from Gaza presented the Quartet with the opening it had been desperately seeking to take a giant step forward in solving this problem. Yet the Quartet faltered dismally in failing to demand that the Parliament in Gaza declare statehood within the boundaries that separate it from Israel and Egypt.
This single act could have been the circuit breaker towards ending 130 years of conflict resulting from competing claims by Jews and Arabs over the same land.
Instead the Quartet focused its efforts on attempting to achieve an overall rather than a partial solution to Arab claims in the West Bank and Gaza in fulfilment of its' misconceived Road Map aimed at misguidedly creating a third State in Mandatory Palestine between Israel and Jordan.
The Quartet has now paid the price for its' folly.
It has created a void into which Hamas has stepped making it impossible now to achieve statehood in Gaza until Hamas is removed from power.
The frantic shuttle diplomacy and endless meetings continue to be held . They achieve no positive outcome other than the accumulation of frequent flyer points for their participants.
Meanwhile the killing and mayhem in Gaza continue to head the news bulletins.
It is now time to call on Jordan and Egypt to play a constructive role in cleaning up the mess in Gaza, which is quickly sinking into the arms smuggling tunnels it has been so busily excavating under its very foundations.
The time for playing semantic word games, holding joint press conferences and grabbing photo opportunities is surely over.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organization calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.