Tuesday, July 16, 2024
 
 

What will it take to prevent a Gaza reconstruction fiasco?

For Gaza, there is only one path to reconstruction

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Let us be unequivocal about the current war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas – the latter declared this war on Israeli citizens, and one by one mass murdered civilians. Hamas’ massacre, torture, and rape of mostly civilians is still impossible to fathom. October 7, 2023 was the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust

Put simply, Israel was attacked, not by an army, but by murderous thugs. It has every right to defend itself. Full stop.

Hamas’ strategic plan was to kill thousands of Jews, take hundreds hostage, and wait for Israel to invade for a long and bloody urban war in Gaza, all the while knowing that Palestinian women and children would die in the inevitable brutal battle space. They planned this exact outcome. Backed by Iran, Russia, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, it is their war. Hamas is responsible for every death and for every building damaged or destroyed, even though their long-term goal of destroying Israel is currently not moving ahead – which means every Gazan that dies suffers a meaningless death.

That is a fact of this war. and war is hell. Always.
Hamas willingly and deceptively launched this war with three precise goals: to disrupt Israel’s gradual rapprochement with an increasing number of Arab governments as a path to regional peace; to provoke uprisings across the Muslim world, both within and outside Israel; and to cause the rest of the world – particularly the European left and the Global South – to view Israel with disgust and hatred.

To achieve these aims, as a designated terrorist organization – Hamas is flaunting on the world stage the basic fact that its war is harming and killing huge numbers of Palestinians in Gaza. For its part, Israel cannot ever accept a murderous terrorist organization acting with complete impunity inside of its borders.

The strains of history 

One should always be skeptical of those who speak in absolutes about the Middle East, especially when it comes to the certainty of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The Middle East has, since the earliest civilizations of history, been a tangle of war-torn animosity and distrust that runs deep in the DNA of those who inhabit the region.

When the dust finally settles on this current chapter of the Israel-Hamas struggle, what we can predict with certainty is that some in the international community will rush to make public pledges of reconstruction support. These public declarations can, with near 100% certainty, show that initial planning for such an undertaking will be started before the year is over, if not earlier.

Washington lays the foundation

The United States is right to help an ally that has suffered a devastating terrorist attack. It also has a moral responsibility, as the leader of the Free World, to assist those in need. The world already knows what the Biden administration’s vision is for the post-hostility phase – that a revitalized Palestinian Authority must become the cornerstone of a potential Palestinian state that may or may not actually develop in the coming years. Through that one statement, Washington has answered most of the key questions about Gaza’s reconstruction, i.e., that it wants a return to the same governing capabilities that the Palestinian Authority possessed before it was humiliated by a 2007 election loss to Hamas in Gaza.

This essentially means that no US reconstruction aid will be approved by the Biden administration for a Hamas-run Gaza. That is crystal clear in terms of policy conditionality.  It is not clear if the European Union would agree on this point, but Brussels’ influence on Washington’s Middle East strategic policymaking is non-existent, and its influence on Israel’s policy is even less.  The EU, as it has proven time and again, has nearly no foreign policy input except in one area – humanitarian relief.

We would expect to see some early Gaza development support repackaged by the EU as “humanitarian aid” to get around this, but that is a very small grey area since the humanitarian support needs are becoming so extensive in the winter months. This is just one of the many reasons why the American military is providing the type of immediate aid that the Europeans simply cannot deliver when it is most needed for the Gazans who are having to endure the horrors of a war that was unleashed by their own Islamic militant leaders.

The EU does not have the intellectual integrity to establish clear parameters to prevent its taxpayers’ resources from being wasted. Instead of doing the job right, Brussels is merely looking to purchase a place at a future Gaza reconstruction conference, which the delusional European Commission and its purposeless army of bureaucrats and regulators aspire to host.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, a man who doesn’t attempt to conceal his hope that one day his name will be mentioned with Charles De Gaulle and Napoleon Bonaparte, hastily organized a Gaza aid conference on November 9 with a focus on humanitarian support. This meeting has largely been forgotten by everyone other than the faceless EU leaders and 50 or so NGOs who were in attendance.

Who pays, the West or the Arab World?  

Another key question is how much the Arab World will contribute to the overall reconstruction effort and whether they will be willing to do this in specific political conditions that Washington and Jerusalem do not accept, meaning in scenarios where Hamas is not completely destroyed as a political entity. Certain Arab regimes, namely those that have established or are in the process of establishing formal relations with Israel, undoubtedly hope that Hamas is fundamentally neutralized, but for obvious reasons can not state this in public.

The US Congress will not approve any form of reconstruction support, even in the best of political scenarios, without the bulk of the aid coming from non-American sources, or at least channeled through International Financial Institutions such as the World Bank.

Utilizing various specialized UN components for reconstruction is also feasible, excepting of course the totally Palestine-dependent UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency, which has long been in the crosshairs of conservative members of Congress, with good reason, as it has been accused of gross internal mismanagement and allowing anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli sentiment to run rampant throughout its largely Palestinian ranks.

What should not be forgotten is that Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the UN have in the past worked together following previous armed incursions under the so-called Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, albeit with mixed results.  This means that there is a basis for joint work in reconstruction operations. History has also shown that Arab donor funding has rarely fulfilled the declared pledges these countries made at various post-conflict conferences.

The 2024 elections will have an impact on US policy

With regard to the United States, the reconstruction funding issue will become an election-year debate point. No 2024 presidential contender at any level will want to lose votes over misdirected American funding for rebuilding Gaza, particularly because the Gazan cause has practically no domestic constituency, save a few disparate districts with voters who are of Arab descent.

What might be the most appropriate role for the EU?

If Brussels was the geopolitical entity that it projects itself as, the European Union could do much more for the overall reconstruction effort by focusing on strengthening the Palestinian Authority through capacity building and democracy support projects.  Direct budgetary support is an absolute waste of Europe’s resources. Time and again, Brussels has acted as if they simply do not care that they waste endless amounts of resources on projects that yield little to no results. The same should be expected in post-war Gaza.

Russia and China could attempt to make further inroads

Is there a role for other superpowers like China and Russia in the reconstruction?  Certainly, if and when they can assist through funding UN and IFI projects, their assistance would be welcomed by their traditional ally, the Palestinians, but any and all Israeli governments would be wary of any directly managed Russian or Chinese projects.

Without question, a government led by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would not even consider reading such proposals.

If Hamas survives in any form, all of the aforementioned reconstruction and humanitarian relief projects would be moot until every militant is removed from Gaza and the West Bank, and any attempt at further acts of violence comes to an end. There is only one path to reconstruction, no matter how many NGO messages and other donor appeals the world will have to endure.

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The Negroni Diaries reflect the views of the author but act chiefly as the official opinion section of NE Global's staff. As part of our effort to provide an unvarnished window into the intricacies of international affairs, this column was so named as nearly all of the world's most pressing issues are regularly discussed in a free and open forum, without the inhibitions of political correctness and revisionist cultural revolutionary-ism, in a setting that is often befitting of the famed Italian cocktail.

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