Socialist Worker

Aid for Gaza - but on one condition

by Simon Assaf
Issue No. 2141

The West is dangling the prospect of reconstruction aid to Palestinians in Gaza – but only on the condition that they accept a two state solution.

International donors, who are meeting at a conference in Egypt, have pledged billions of dollars in funds to rebuild the territory that was shattered by a three week Israeli offensive.

But the pledges come with the condition that Palestinians should recognise a “two state solution” – that is accept that refugees would never be able to return to their homes and that illegal Israeli settlements would remain untouched.

But the proposed new Israeli government, an alliance of extreme right wing parties, has made it clear that it will not recognise any independent Palestinian state.

Despite this the US wants to use the aid to boost the unpopular and corrupt Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, is offering some £600 million. The US has earmarked $400 million for the PA, which is run by Mahmoud Abbas.

Only £200 million will go to rebuild homes, schools, hospitals and factories that were destroyed by Israel.

The Hamas movement, which won the Palestinian elections in 2005 and is the legitimate government, has not been invited to the conference.

Some Arab governments, including the Gulf states which have pledged some £1 billion, want to bypass Abbas. They said they would distribute the aid through their own office in Gaza.


But despite the pledges, Israel is unwilling to open key border crossings through which building materials will flow. Egypt, which controls the strategic Rafah crossing to Gaza, has also blocked the aid.

Hamas has warned that Israel has no intention of honouring the truce that has brought a pause in the fighting.

The resistance movement consistently pointed to the continuing illegal settlement as proof of Israel’s intentions to expand further into Palestinian lands.

The Peace Now organisation has backed up their warnings, recently revealing that Israel is planning to build some 73,000 new homes in the occupied West Bank.

This makes a mockery of US, European and United Nations promises of an independent Palestinian state.

This plans have further undermined the Palestinian Authority, and the Fatah faction that dominates it, which staked its future on a two state deal.

Support for this movement, which rose to prominence in the 1960s and 1970s as the main resistance organisation, is melting away.

Fatah fears that its last strongholds in Palestinian camps in Lebanon are about to fall under the control of Hamas.

One Fatah commander told Time magazine recently that, “Fatah isn’t helping people. Hamas is taking advantage of this. They are entering deep, deep into the population.

“We already lost Jordan and Syria. All of them sympathise with Hamas. If we lose Lebanon, then Fatah and all of what it represents will be over.”

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Tue 3 Mar 2009, 18:33 GMT
Issue No. 2141
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