By Ted Belman
I submit that the answer to both those questions is “no”. That is so long as Israel and the US do not waiver on the demand for demilitarization. From the point of view of Hamas, effective demilitarization will be the death of them. For them, chances of staying alive are better if they keep fighting. They may reason that as the war gets more bloody, they might get a better cease fire.
On the other hand they might accept quiet for quiet and avoid demilitarization. But that won’t get the borders open for them.
There is another issue that should be put on the table. As it is, Gaza is a prison for the Arabs living there or at least a pressure cooker. They number 1.8 million, 40% of whom are children. A solution must be found to facilitate their emigration. This is a problem that won’t go away. It will only get worse.
This problem is part of a bigger problem, namely the plight of the “Palestinian refugees” living in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Syria, which was home to just under 500,000 of them, has destroyed their refugee camps and displaced them again.
To date the Arab League has insisted that they be not naturalized of permitted to emigrate. It wants to use them as a pawn or thorn in Israel’s side to ensure their “right of return” to Israel and thereby, Israel’s destruction. They number in total now around 5 million although less than 50,000 refugees remain alive. The others are not refugees but descendants of refugees and their numbers are growing exponentially. Israel will not accept them in Israel and has called for their acceptance only in Palestine should it be created. But guess what, the Palestinian Authority won’t accept them either. And now there is a growing chorus of voices in Israel who are against their return to Judea and Samaria (West Bank) too, whether or not Palestine is created, because it would be too destabilizing.
It is increasingly likely that an independent Palestine will not come into existence. There will be no place for them to return to. Leaving them to rot in refugee camps or elsewhere in these countries without full rights or passports is a denial of their human rights. And yet no Human Rights organization has championed their cause. And that goes for the UN itself and all the countries of the world. This must change.
UNWRA was created in 1950, not to resettle these refugees but to “reintegrate” them in the area or to “repatriate” them to Israel. Over the years the idea of “reintegration” was dropped due to Arab resistance leaving only “repatriation” otherwise known as return, as the goal. In that it is a unique organization. In contrast, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) exists to resettle refugees in other countries which it has done for 50 million of them and counting.
To achieve its stated purpose, UNWRA inculcates a Palestinian identity in its charges keeps the idea of return, steadfast in their minds. This only perpetuates the conflict.
The US must spear head a movement to get the world to absorb these stateless people. UNCHR must be given responsibility for these “refugees” and UNWRA must be disbanded.
Perhaps the US could start with the “refugees” in Gaza. Since billions are to be spent in rebuilding Gaza, why not spend this money to resettle them elsewhere. Surveys have found that 80% of them would like to leave. Allow Israel to reoccupy Gaza and rebuild it at its own expense. Of course Israel’s sovereignty over Gaza would be recognized as part of the deal. Gaza would cease to exist.
This would eradicate Hamas. Saudia Arabia and UAR would gladly contribute billions.