What next for Gaza?
The US and Israel are trying to force population transfer on their Arab clients
Two key issues have been preoccupying the US and its Western allies as their diplomats, think-tanks, and state agencies try to devise and promote practicable proposals and roadmaps for the Gaza Strip’s future.
First, how to disperse a couple of million Gaza Strip residents to various places around the world, in order to reduce the population density, provide the Israeli occupation with permanent security, and facilitate the ongoing Zionist ethnic-cleansing project.
Secondly, how to create an alternative to Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip. Three possibilities are being discussed: (1) Bring in the Palestinian Authority (PA). (2) Send in international forces. (3) Restore Egyptian administration, which operated between the 1948 Nakba and the Israeli occupation in 1967, under a new kind of ‘mandate’.
Serious consideration is being given to the idea that the population of the Gaza Strip could be offloaded onto other countries, especially neighbouring Egypt, but also including Gulf states (especially Saudi Arabia) and immigrant-absorbing Western nations such as Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
The Gulf states did not absorb a single Syrian refugee fleeing the war there, even though they did and continue to do much to fund and fuel that disastrous conflict in a bid to topple the regime. They would never agree to the resettlement of Gazans in their own territory. But they might be willing to pay for their relocation to other places such as Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq.
One of the weirdest ideas doing the rounds is for Gaza Strip evacuees to be sent to Iraqi Kurdistan. When the regional president Nechirvan Barzani visited Paris a few days ago, he was surprised to hear French officials propose that he re-house 4,000 Gazan families in return for substantial financial rewards. He is said to have turned down the proposal and the inducements on the grounds that it would upset the region’s ethnic balance, jeopardise its security, and be opposed by the local population, the central government in Baghdad, and the Iraqi public as a whole.
But fears remain that neighbouring states, namely Jordan and Egypt, may yet yield to financial inducements to take in hundreds of thousands of displaced people from Gaza. Both countries’ economies are in deep trouble. They are desperate for funds to cover their debt and interest repayments. Egypt needs an immediate infusion of $29bn for this purpose. Jordan is in a similar situation, and it also faces the threat of an even larger displacement of refugees from the West Bank into its territory. It already has two million Syrian and Iraqi refugees to cope with, and a public running to some $50 billion.
EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen — who has amply demonstrated her unconditional support for Israel and its massacres — has also adopted is expulsion plans, in both their ‘forcible’ and ‘voluntary’ variants. She visited Egypt and Israel to present them with financial offers ($10bn for Egypt and $5bn for Jordan) in exchange for compliance. These were rejected by both governments, according to official statements. But official statements do not necessarily reflect private agreements reached behind closed doors. I hope I am wrong.
Whatever the case, three key facts stand out.
First, the war on Gaza, well into its second month, is still ongoing and is likely to continue going on for a long time. Israel has failed to achieve most of its declared aims other than to cause mass death, destruction, and internal displacement.
Secondly, Hamas remains in effective control of the Gaza Strip and has been inflicting serious losses and casualties on the invading Israeli army.
Third, nobody has even considered taking into account the views of the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants about who should rule them in future. The ‘leader of the free world’ and its European acolytes are intent on imposing a new regime on them by force without even pretending to consult them.
The vast majority of the Gaza Strip’s residents would never accept the return of the compromised, corrupted, and co-opted PA. Most people in the West Bank already consider it illegitimate. Meanwhile, Hamas is steadily becoming more popular. People are rallying around it as an embodiment of resistance. The only thing that could eventually replace it is a reversion to a vision of a liberated historic Palestine, freed from the racist precepts and genocidal practices of Zionist ideology and the Israeli occupation state that embodies it.