The Emirate of Palestine

Palestinians, Gaza, Gazans, Israel, Abraham Accords
Image credit: Le Monde

There are many competing ideas about “the day after” the Israel-Hamas war, about how to fill the dangerous vacuum left in Gaza should Israel succeed in destroying Hamas. Overlooked, however, is a particularly intriguing suggestion by the anonymous blogger Elder of Ziyon that deserves wider attention.

What are the main possibilities?

Israel doesn’t want Gaza back. It doesn’t want to govern two million hostile Palestinians, nor take over day-to-day governance. Imagine the suicide bombings at every governmental office. And, of course, it would be “occupation.”

Israel has tried empowering local clans as alternate rulers for years and it has never worked out: they fight amongst themselves, there are too many threats from armed Islamists, and no one wants to look like a puppet of Israel.

Some (such as the US) have pushed for a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority (PA) to reassert control, but the PA is corrupt and weak, despised by its own citizens, in fact complicit in terror against Israelis, and “revitalization” is a farce. The P.A. lost Gaza to Hamas once and would likely lose it again, either by election or by force.

Others have proposed a multinational force or rule that would include Arab states, a kind of “Arab mandate.” Though there are advantages, it means that Gaza would become a hot spot for geopolitical rivalries between at least Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But Qatari influence would be disastrous. Qatar supports Hamas both directly and through Al Jazeera, the most influential source of “news” in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia might want more influence, but without peace with Israel, it is limited in what it can do. Egypt doesn’t want Gaza. Egyptians hate everything about it. After all, it was Egypt that turned it into a virtual prison for Palestinian refugees after the 1948 war and to this day.

So who should run Gaza the day after Hamas is eradicated?

When Israel left Gaza in 2005, optimists thought it could become a new Singapore. Palestinian incompetence and Hamas ended that fantasy. Hate for Israel was more important than helping Palestinians thrive.

But, as Elder of Ziyon points out, there is one country that could turn Gaza into that wonderful place: The United Arab Emirates (UAE). Gaza should become the eighth United Arab Emirate.

Think about it. The UAE is at peace with Israel. It and other countries could pour massive amounts of money into rebuilding Gaza into that paradise, money they’d be hesitant to commit if Gaza were to continue to be a source of war and destruction. The UAE wouldn’t allow Islamists to gain a toehold, if only to protect its investments: there would be no rockets, no infiltrations, no tunnels.

Why would the UAE be interested?

The UAE already has expansionist ambitions. Further, a port on the Mediterranean is a pretty big carrot. The UAE has already been negotiating with an Israeli firm to build a “land bridge” of trucks from the Port of Dubai to Israeli ports to bypass the Red Sea and the Houthis for shipping to Europe. If the UAE were to build or run a port in Gaza, it could be on both ends of the shipping traffic. An already proposed train line from the Gulf to Israel could be extended to Gaza to tie the Gulf countries closer to the sea as well. There are also significant gas deposits off the coast of Gaza. No one wants to risk drilling there now, but the UAE would solve that problem, and gain from it.

Israel should be on board with such a plan, a true and enormous mutual benefit of the Abraham Accords.

Gazans would suddenly live in a place that has a future. The UAE and Israel could develop joint business ventures and economic zones to bring Gaza up to modern standards. One could realistically imagine luxury hotels and high-tech skyscrapers being built on the shores of the Mediterranean. Joint economic projects would employ thousands of Gazans, who could work and flourish. Gazans would become citizens of an Arab country but could still call themselves Palestinians. The emirate itself could be called “The Emirate of Palestine”. Why not? And Gaza citizens of the UAE could move to the other emirates to seek other opportunities if they prefer, having the same freedom of movement human rights groups are currently rejecting for them during the course of the current war. There would be no more “refugees”.

Gaza could truly become the global tourist destination peaceniks have been dreaming of at least since Israel left it in 2005, and maybe since Oslo. Wealthy Europeans could rub shoulders with wealthy Arabs and make deals.

Egypt would be thrilled to have such a neighbor. The entire Sinai could benefit from increased trade.

This idea is a win for literally everyone—except for those people dedicated to destroying Israel, who bring destruction upon all. People who truly want peace in the region would love to see this idea work. This plan is a win for Israel, a win for the UAE, a win for Gazans, a win for Egypt, and a win for the West that wants to solve the Middle East crisis. It is a real solution, and a permanent one.

It would not be easy, but this plan is the only one anyone has suggested that has a chance of a permanent success. Let it at least be debated and compared with the other plans that the supposed “experts” are advocating where a corrupt terror-inclined Palestinian leadership controls Gaza or a weak Palestinian leadership must be propped up by Israel.

Start by describing the plan to actual Gazans and ask whether they like the idea.

Can anyone actually think of any better realistic future for Gaza than this?


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