Will Post-War Rebuilding in Gaza help Abbas?

Reports from Gaza are that the Hamas "brand" has taken a big hit and that the people are tired of the terrorists using their children's deaths as public relations fodder.

If so, might not it be a good move to help Gazans rebuild their homes and infrastructure, giving the money to the Palestinian authority rather than Hamas?

Abbas is no bargain as far as the peace process goes and any nonsense about him being a "moderate" can safely be dismissed. But he's a damn sight better than Hamas and strengthening his political position might curtail attacks against Israel.

Or would the whole reconstruction process become just another Middle Eastern mess?

The aim would be to ensure that credit for reconstruction accrues to President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, and not to the Iranian-backed Islamists who won a 2006 Palestinian election and seized control of Gaza 18 months later.

A senior European diplomat involved in the discussions dismissed the idea "as a recipe for failure from the start".

Any major reconstruction programme is likely to face major hurdles, from Palestinian infighting and corruption to Israeli obstructionism, that could further undermine the credibility of "moderates" like Abbas, who advocates a peace deal with Israel, aid officials said.

"Whoever rebuilds Gaza will be the real winner," said one Western diplomat, describing Israel's war in Lebanon in 2006 as a sobering lesson for Washington about the political dangers of not moving quickly enough on reconstruction.

At the end of that conflict, the guerrilla group Hezbollah, with Iranian financial support, pumped money into reconstruction, undercutting the Western-backed government in Beirut. Hezbollah emerged "stronger than ever", the Western diplomat said.

Nobody knows how much money Gaza will need, but aid officials said the sums would be vast given the destruction.

You also have the difficulty of many Europeans getting tired of building up Gaza only to have the Israelis come along every few years and level the place. In short, it is not likely that any credit would accrue to the PA if the west ponies up and helps rebuild Gaza.

Abbas is going to have to woo the Gazans the old fashioned way - bribes and kickbacks.

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