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If we are looking at a way of ending violence between Israel and the Palestinians, then we can say go back to the original proposal of 1947 of dividing Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.  President Mahmoud Abbas said it was a mistake, not to accept the United Nations vote.  So now it is trying to go back and correct past mistakes.  In order to do so, now we have to look at how to make the West Bank and Gaza into realistic candidates for a nation-state.  First of all, the West Bank is going to have to be a contiguous entity.  It cannot be a patch quilt of an Israeli settlement here, and a Palestinian village over the hill, both flying their own flags, and having their own municipal services.  So it breaks down to either have the Israeli settlers return to the pre-1967 borders, or stay and become citizens of Palestine.  Now this leads to the next issue, an economy for Gaza.  Israel no longer has a presence in Gaza, except for the airstrikes.  But the problems in Gaza are manifold.  Despite what the press portrays, Hamas does not have absolute control over Gaza.  Hamas has to deal with other factions such as Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees, Salafists, and uncontrolled drug dealing. You can blame it on the Israeli blockade, but it seems to go beyond just that.  Palestinian elections are scheduled in May, and it is hoped that Al Fatah can take over administering Gaza.  But does that means that Gaza's problems will disappear?  Factious vying for power, 98% of its businesses not operating, and 45% unemployment seems like great obstacles to overcome.  When Yasir Arafat was alive a lot went into international assistance for developing a Palestinian economy, but many allegations were made that Arafat handed this aid over to his cronies, who were expatriates living in Western Europe, like his wife.  It did go into building an airport in Gaza, which was destroyed during the second intifada in 2002.  But there is the ability to rebuild, and have the airport be a location where Israeli farmers can bring fresh fruit and flowers to be flown to markets in Europe, as oppose to going all the way up to Ben-Gurion Airport.  Thus creating a service sector within Gaza.  It seems grandiose, but so is the probability of peace between Israel and Jordan, to jointly work on environmental problems affecting the Dead Sea.  Israel and Jordan are now at peace, and they can work on environmental problems and economic development of the region.  But back to Gaza, the 1.5 million citizens deserve something better, and to take it a step at a time, to address the political instability, and more important of all, economic viability of the region.  Peace is not impossible, it just takes hard work.

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Gaza is on its knees because that is where Israel wants Gaza.

The Gazans are an industrious people, and many times they have made diligent efforts to build up their economy, only to have it smashed down by Israel.

 

There are many ways in which Israel meddles with the Palestinian economy. Sometimes it is through sales tax, sometimes through blocking the supply of raw goods, other times farmers are held waiting at checkpoints until their fresh produce is ruined. Preventing trade between Jordan and the West Bank, and forcing trade to be one-sided with Israel, are all ways of continuously destroying the Palestinian economy. Israelis have also bombed and bulldozed buildings where it was known safe and viable products were manufactured.

 

It does not matter how many airports you have, the fresh fruit and flowers will never get to markets in Europe unless Israel is forced to let it happen.

No matter how much effort you put into developing a Palestinian economy, it will be shot down by the Israelis – because the UN and USA turn a blind eye to what is happening.  The EU is no better.

 

This is to address the situation within Gaza.  First of all, Israel no longer has a presence in Gaza, and as for the airstrikes, Israel and Gaza announced a cease-fire brokered by Egypt.  The latest rocket attacks from Gaza did not come from Hamas, but come from Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, which shows how factious governing bodies within Gaza are.  It is just like Lebanon from 1975-1990, when separate factions had their own armed militias.  Also, Israel was going to allow diesel fuel to be shipped to Gaza, but Hamas refused because it did not want "Zionist diesel," so it had to go through a lengthier process of getting it from Egypt.  I am sure the people of Gaza are industrious, and that is the reason why the airport in Gaza should be reopen and made operational.  As for one-side trade with Israel, the Palestinians do U.S. $3 billion dollars worth of business with Israel.  Israel's economy is larger than Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon combined.  So trade with Israel can be lucrative, but there is a need to make the Palestinian economy more viable.  The Palestinian Authority was forced to raise taxes, because the Palestinian economy is so dependent on international aid, and with the global financial downturn, less is coming in.  It does not look like the Palestinians do not have any allies to support their political and financial aspirations, but now we have to turn those aspirations into reality.  The best way to do that is to start exploring what service sector employment is feasible for Gaza, and not just drug smuggling, because it is hard to say that Israel is responsible for Gaza turning into a crack house.  When alternatives were explored, then inner city youths in the United States could find legal means of supporting themselves, then just selling drugs.  I am sure the people of Gaza would like to find legal means of making a living, because the police that is storming their crack houses and arresting are not Israeli, they are Hamas.  Addressing Gaza's problems go just beyond saying it is all Israel's fault.  Actually, it is an international problem, and it needs international support, i.e., the United Nations, United States, Israel, and the European Union.

Gaza’s problems can all be justifiably blamed on Israel because Israel controls Gaza’s borders, and uses this control to deliberately damage Gaza’s economy.

The suggestion that Gaza is a crack house is judgmental and disparaging and very likely to be a deliberate putdown – maybe not by you Tim, but certainly by whoever first started calling Gaza a crackhouse.

Gaza's drug problem has been thoroughly covered by CNN News.  I do consider this a viable source of information.  In their broadcast, they have interviewed members of Hamas vice squad, who mentioned it has been very difficult to control.  One thing that CNN News pointed out, is that the tunnels from Egypt that were used to smuggle in arms into Gaza, where also being using to smuggle in drugs.  So saying that Gaza has a drug smuggling problem is being disparaging, is just like saying it is disparaging to say that inner city youth in the United States have a drug smuggling problem.  Because it is inner city youth or is it inner city youth that happen to be black?  Drug smuggling can be overly represented by groups, whether they are black, Hispanic, or Palestinian.  But what definitely needs to be accomplished is that have open borders between Israel and Gaza, for the transferring of commodities and people.  Because all nation-states, cannot be sealed off from each other, they must interact.  It my understanding that Singapore, gets all of its freshwater from Malaysia.  If that is the case, then can Singapore afford to seal itself off from Malaysia?

Tim, you completely miss the point.  The people of Gaza as every bit capable of managing their economy as are Israelis; may be even more so, as the Palestinians have survived under extreme adversity.

 

When I did a little search for information on drugs and Gaza, the first few items that came up were about shortages of medicinal drugs in Gaza, followed by a video I decided to look at. It was about illicit drugs in Gaza, but it had possibly been illegally produced, and was definitely in the hands of ZionistIDF, who openly displays a paranoid hatred of Palestinians.

 

As you say, Singapore gets its water from Malaysia, and I know most of Israel’s water comes from the Occupied Territories. What’s the difference?  Israel does not pay for its water.

 

It is offensive that you would highlight this issue of drug taking in Gaza when there are far more serious issues that been created by Israel, and date back to 1948.

 

The issue of drug smuggling within Gaza, is a recent issue, and it is one of the problems, along with other political factions that are vying with Hamas for power within Gaza.  As for going back to 1948, it seems to be wise to use the proposal of the United Nations then, which was to partition Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.  But to build an Arab state, i.e., Palestine, there needs to be a viable economy, which is what is so desperately needed in Gaza.  One of the ways to accomplish that is to rebuild the airport, and lay the foundations for a service sector.  If this can be built up in Gaza, then it can reduce the need for drug smuggling, because I am sure like drug smugglers everywhere, they make big money off of it.  Drug smuggling does not go back to 1948, it was identified as an on-going situation just recently.  As for the issue of water, let us wait until the next discussion, which will be about the West Bank.  Another issue to focus on about Gaza is the other political factions that challenging Hamas, such the Salafists.

Israel should rebuild the airport. They are the ones who destroyed it. No one else is going to risk paying for an airport that Israel is sure to destroy again.  That is how we all feel. I am not saying that this is the way it is.

What I am saying is, if Israel wants the world to believe they are well intentioned towards Palestinians, Israel needs to show it by financing a few projects of genuine significance.

That possibility should not be ruled out either.  There are a lot of shades of gray that will have to be made into black or white, if there is going to be definite peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  It is like what Ezer Weizman said "we are here to wage a war of peace."  With a war of peace, that means everything has to be placed on the table.

There is no negotiating partner because Israel is not genuinely interested in any trade-offs.   Even if Palestinians agree to the ’67 border, they will still require Israel to accept the return of all refugees who originally hail from Israel.

Palestinians are unlikely to enter into any further negotiations until they are confident Israel will accept these conditions.

Apart from the frustration of many days of intensive peace discussions  ending in an impasse, another reason why Palestinians are reluctant to agree to any further negotiations is that Israeli leaders publicly blame Palestinian leaders for all failed negotiations.

 

Israel's water comes mainly from the Kinnaret as well as through purification of seawater and ground water.  Israel possesses expertise in matters to do with water purification and is internationally recognized for this.

Israel also gets most of its water from an aquifer south of Haifa.  When you look at the aquifer in the West Bank, that goes over the pre-1967 border into Israel.  So the only Israeli extraction of water from the West Bank, goes to the settlements there, not into Israel proper.  The settlements in the West Bank are built on aquifers, such as Ariel.  So if Israel were to relinquish control of the West Bank, it would not be losing a water supply.  But please stay tune to our next discussion, which will be about the West Bank settlements.  Your input will be needed.

When Jews left Gaza in 2005, they left all their buildings and equipment for the continual growing of agricultural produce and flowers.  This was a multi-million dollar industry and included exports to countries other than Israel.  As soon as Israel left the premises, all of these buildings and agricultural sites were destroyed by Hamas and shifted over into platforms and staging areas for missile and rocket launchings.  So much for Sussan's assurancere that Gazans are an industrious people.  Actually, only in matters of weaponry do Gazans appear to be industrious.  Their focus is on destroying the Israeli state.  Like most Palestinian Arabs in the Mideast, they've been on the dole for three or four generations now and self-achievement is the one commodity which really is lacking.  

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