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Analysis: Gaza and the West Bank are one political entity
Published Friday 01/08/2014 (updated) 09/08/2014 22:29
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A Palestinian man holds up national flags supporting a new
attempt to reconcile Hamas and its PLO rivals on April 22, 2014
in Gaza City (AFP Mahmud Hams)

Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and former professor of journalism at Princeton University.

The admission was buried deep in a long drawn out analysis by Israel's leading columnist. Nahum Barnea revealed that one of the yet to be declared results of the war on Gaza is the realization that the attempts to separate Gaza from the West Bank has failed.

While the focus of discussion in various regional and world capitals has been on lifting the siege on Gaza and specifically the opening up of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, another crossing point is coming to focus now.

If in fact this idea is truly internalized by the various Israeli political and military elements, we might be seeing the beginnings of the accomplishment of one of the basic tenants of an independent Palestinian state.

The unity of the Palestinian territory is essential to fulfill the requirement for "contiguity" when it comes to the ability of movement between Gaza and the West Bank.

The safe passage road between the northern Gaza borders and the Tarqumia crossing south of Hebron was talked and has been detailed in great details in the Oslo Accords. A further attempt to further discuss the movement of persons and goods between the two Palestinian areas was hammered out in US-Israeli and -Palestinian discussions under the leadership of former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

But all that talk and all those agreements failed as Israel implemented a fool-hearted and reckless policy to separate Gaza from the West Bank. It is not clear what the Israeli strategists were hoping for, but what has resulted in the radicalization of the Gaza Strip and its equipping with long range rockets, was certainly not on those Israeli strategists' agenda.

It is a given that when a vacuum is created it is quickly filled up by someone else. The radicalization of Gaza brought further isolation which pushed the Islamist movement further and further into militancy as the sole path to bringing about true freedom and independence.

Israel was extremely successful politically in isolating Hamas and denying it any regional or international legitimacy even after it won fairly the Palestinian legislative elections. Denying Hamas the ability to govern further infuriated the movement and led to the internal fight against the Palestinian presidential guards in Gaza and thus began a long and sad chapter in the history of the Gaza Strip.

The success of Israel and its international (US) and regional (Egypt) allies to deny Hamas any political footing almost worked. It brought the movement to its knees as funding was stopped and the Egyptian-Gaza tunnels were destroyed by the newly anti-Islamist pro-military president of Egypt. But the very fact of pushing Hamas into a corner politically and financially played into the hand of the militant wing of the movement.

Palestinians shout slogans during a demonstration supporting the unity government
in Gaza City on May 14, 2014 (AFP/ Mahmud Hams)

When Israel erroneously blamed Hamas for the kidnapping and killing of three Israelis settlers and began a campaign against the movement in the West Bank and Gaza, the militants reacted to defend the movement.

When this current war on Gaza ends, a number of issues will have to be revisited, amongst them the long term status of the nearly two million Palestinians who still call Gaza home. The eight-year-old crippling siege can't continue nor can the people of Gaza continue to live under the uncertainty that has resulted in three wars within six years.

While a major economic effort is needed for the Gaza Strip, the most important change that is required is an end to the attempts to separate Palestinians from their brothers and sisters in the occupied West Bank. Sure, Israel will insist on security arrangements, but the idea that the entire people of Gaza will be treated as a single militant group that one can't negotiate with is unacceptable. Perhaps the changes will require a much bigger role for the Ramallah-based Palestinian government.

The fact that Hamas and the PLO have agreed on a unity government headed by Rami Hamdallah, will make the transition easier. Parliamentary and presidential elections slated for next December will need to be held in order to have a legitimate governing body for the state of Palestine.

Accomplishing physical connectivity between Gaza and the West Bank, however, is only a step towards the fulfilling the aspirations of all Palestinians: an independent and contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and living in peace with Israel.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect Ma'an News Agency's editorial policy.
1 ) Outlier / USA
01/08/2014 23:12
Despite Mr. Kattub's "analysis," Actions speak louder than words. Actions say Gaza and the West Bank are separate entities.

2 ) some one / some wher
02/08/2014 00:29
Mr. Daoud Kuttab, i wonder in the Arab's world you can call analyst. this junk you write in not analyst since you know nothing about other side agena and what the will do 60 years you try to bring them to their knee and you failed if you think they let you connect 2 pieces of territories by crossing milled of their country so you latter grab them all you wrong infact you miss all westbank since this war they are not going to give you a peices of ........

3 ) Elbonian / USA
02/08/2014 00:44
Great analysis. Just one problem, though: Israel is doubling down on its separation policies. Yes, it wants the PA to govern Gaza. But I doubt Israel is prepared to allow a free and fair election to be held; an election which Hamas may well win once again. Fatah is corrupt to its core, and most Palestinians know that and so vote for the "best alternative" to Fatah, which is Hamas. And Israel will never accept Hamas having any role in government. So, there is no way out but more and more war.

4 ) mel kamell / malaysia
02/08/2014 03:08
May Allah bless all palestninian ppl...,insyAllah..!! * time wll tell the awakening of united of Palestinian..!!

5 ) Rafael / USA
02/08/2014 06:10
This article is oblivious to what actual is taking place in the real world. This article represents the writers dreams. Reality says until the Palestinians can prove to the Israels' that they have one gun and do not desire to destroy the Jewish State (recognition of a Jewish Democratic Israel with rights for minorities is the minimum basic test for this) there will be no more than an autonomous Palestinian Area A state. The distrust after Gaza is probably insurmountable from both sides.

6 ) Tibi / Tubas
02/08/2014 14:27
If Gaza and the West Bank are one political entity, then they are One War Criminal too, and it's leaders all over the world should be arrested.

7 ) Tobias / USA
02/08/2014 14:33
Only Through Peace, Can Gaza Ever Be Linked To The West Bank. However, Hamas Will Never Consider Peace, So Land, Sea, And Air Routes In And Out Of Gaza Will Remain Forever Closed !!!

8 ) Alana Turing - 1 / UK
02/08/2014 15:06
A very well articulated article by Prof Kattub. He is correct in his assertion; Israel holds the notion that if Palestinians can be separated & isolated geographically, they cannot be one nation state. However, if we look at the Imperialist/Colonialist model or for that matter the Caliphate of the Ottomans, there was no issue with geography being more important than belonging to the nation. Israel's failed attempts to thwart a Palestinian State, have actually strengthened the Palestinian resolve

9 ) Alana Turing - 2 / UK
02/08/2014 15:07
to finally bring about a viable, thriving & autonomous state. Israel bleats about being the only democracy in the M.East, yet again this is only because it continually tries to sabotage the Palestinians right to choose their own democratically elected government. If the people choose Hamas, that is their right. It is their country & as long as the election is free & fair, their choice must be respected. The West cannot push for democracy in the M.East, & then take it away when it doesn’t suit

10 ) Alana Turing - 3 / UK
02/08/2014 15:09
their agenda. As to the Palestinian recognition of a “Jewish Democratic State – with minority rights”, the PLO have already recognised ‘Israel’, as have the current unity gov. Israel could have chosen to be “Jewish State of Israel” in 1948, when the land was partitioned, it did not. If Israel wants a name change, I understand that it can register that request with the UN, this issue nothing to do with Palestine. As to minority rights in Israel, there haven’t been many for the last 67 years, so

11 ) Alana Turing - 4 / UK
02/08/2014 15:10
again the International Community/UN would need to look at any potential Human Rights abuses or discrimination occurring there. Peace can come to both sides, but only when the world stops allowing the subjugation & oppression of one set of people, in order to allow the other side to thrive. There has to be fairness & balance, as well as a recognition of the injustice done to the Palestinian people. Both in terms of the Nakba & the wider complicity by the international community which enabled

12 ) Alana Turing - 5 / UK
02/08/2014 15:11
& continues to enable Palestinian disempowerment.

13 ) IBS / UK
02/08/2014 17:59
Finally we see here a good article which can be call an analysis. The author is definitely right about the final goal. The problem, however, is that 'free-pass' is not enough. The separation between the PLO and Hamas is not just physical. It is mainly ideological. In order to fulfil the writer's goal, Hamas will need to seriously revise its ideology, and to accept the existence of Israel. Also they should not have an independent army within the PA. I doubt whether they're going to do that...

14 ) jootoo / UK
02/08/2014 18:01
@4 The Arabs have slumbered, and not woken up to peace since 1948. They can now go back to sleep for anther 66 years.

15 ) Oliveland / Palestine
02/08/2014 19:12
The author is perplexed by the Israeli intention for the seperation of the two entities . Well , the reason is that the right wing government/movement wants to annex half or the whole West Bank , so if there is a new aprthied ( West Bankers will have less rights ) 'One State' it will not include the 1.8m Gazans , and therefore fullfil their delusion of having it all and keeping a Jewish majority . So the struggle is a long one for a One State , first rights to Wet Bankers , then inclusion of Gaz

16 ) Oliveland / Palestine
02/08/2014 19:19
continued...then the inclusion of Gazans . Further struggle for the One State would be the immigration policy . There will be obvious discrimination as Jews will give more rights to ANY Jew from ANYWHERE to immigrate and the Palestinians want the right tfor the refugees and other diaspora Palestinians ( positive economic-cultural addtion ) to come back .

17 ) Oliveland / Palestine
02/08/2014 19:21
coninued ....Conclusion : Israel will try its best to keep the separation and maintain Gaza a big open prison , a modern day mega Ghetto .

18 ) Outlier / USA
03/08/2014 00:27
15-17, Oliveland, on the contrary. Israel would prefer Gaza thrive. But Hamas' avowed goal to destroy Israel assures it will not. When Gaza eliminates Hamas and radical jihadists, keeps only weapons necessary for security and normalizes economic relations, it will blossom. In the meantime, it suffers the consequences of incompetent leadership.

19 ) Abdullah (1) / KSA
03/08/2014 01:59
@13: The issue is not whether Hamas revises its ideology, the question, assuming Palestine continues along a democratic model, is whether Hamas (or any other faction/party) can be accepted as a functioning & democratically elected government. If the state (as Khalid Meshaal has said) accepts Israel, Hamas will abide by that decision, irrespective of their own view. This is not an inconsistent position to take; in fact it is a very truthful one. Providing the PLO & Hamas can agree

20 ) Abdullah (2) / KSA
03/08/2014 02:00
on the main points of any major deal in order to procure an independent & autonomous state, ideological differences should not matter. What matters is that once created, the state can function, bloom & live in peace, free from interference from its neighbours. With regard to having one army, I think what is lost here is the fact that currently Palestine has no state army. Oslo is dead, the PA security forces have no real legitimacy, other than to serve as Israel’s security guards, Al Qassam is

21 ) Abdullah (3) / KSA
03/08/2014 02:01
a legitimate resistance organisation, as are the other factions, remember Palestine is currently occupied. They have a right under international law to defend themselves from aggression & invasion. Once a functioning Palestinian state comes into being, it might be possible to merge the various factions & PA forces to make a legitimate state army, to which the Palestinians are entitled. Israel cannot expect to be the 4th most powerful military in the world, yet Palestine not to have its own

22 ) Abdullah (4) / KSA
03/08/2014 02:05
military force. Palestinians have the same rights under international law as everyone else. It would be ludicrous to suggest otherwise, especially given Israel’s track record of occupation & military rule (& I say that objectively, not with bias). It’s not easy, but with perseverance it could work. Further I would add stop the labelling & listen to the other sides perspective. Only when both sides of the argument are rationalised can judgements be made. The constant demonization doesn't help.

23 ) Anna / Sweden
03/08/2014 10:27
Don't remember, how come Gaza and the West bank have different governments in the first place?

24 ) IBS / UK
04/08/2014 23:50
@23 Hamas was elected democratically but the president was still from the PLO. Then, it conducted a violent revolution in Gaza and killed around 500 members of the PLO. (I hope I'm not wrong). Therefore, there were two separate governments. @19- Thanks for your comment. Maybe you are right to ask for an army for the Palestinian state. Still, this is not the crucial point. The problem is that the ideological differences between Hamas and the PLO. Hamas is not a democratic movement and it does not

25 ) IBS / UK
04/08/2014 23:59
...accept democratic regime. Democracy means more than elections. It also means freedom of the citizens. Hamas wants to force the Sharia law. Look at their government in Gaza. No elections where conducted there since 2005. Basic rights are violated by Hamas. They have their own little army not only to fight Israel, but also to force their regime on the people of Gaza. I don't think they are going to give away this army to the PA (if the PLO wins the elections). This is a real problem.

26 ) Iain Cameron / New Zealand.
05/08/2014 11:14
Re Imposing the Partition Plan would reconnect Gaza and the West Bank like they originally were. Now more than ever Palestinians need to resist Israels attempts to divide the people and resist more settlements being built. Whatever is required to protect the survival of the Palestinian people on their land needs to be done. Use the ICC and UN and any other organisation to hold Israel to account. Legally Israel knows it doesn't have a leg to stand on.

27 ) red / USA
06/08/2014 05:14
Unity through "radicalization"! From the river to the sea, Palestine shall be free!

28 ) Outlier / USA
09/08/2014 19:54
(earlier comment spiked), 27, red, it will never happen. Time to accept Israel's existence, if Palestinians want a country to call their own.
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