Articles > > Growing Tahdi'a Prospects

Articles - Addostour - Date: 2019-12-05
By: Oraib Al Rantawi

The prospects of a 'sustainable tahdi'a [lull or calming down]' between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip are growing.
 
Not a day passes without the Hebrew newspapers revealing new information addressing something of what is happening in Israeli security-military and political corridors concerning this subject. Most recently, Netanyahu approved a project for an [Gaza offshore] 'industrial island', involving a port and perhaps an airport, as well as electricity and water projects that will require increased numbers of workers from the Gaza Strip in the settlements in the Gaza envelope and the Israeli interior and the industrial zones along the border line. There are also plans for a mobile U.S. field hospital serving Iraq to Syria all the way to Beit Lahia [Gaza] .
 
In another development pertaining to the tahdi'a issue, Egyptian intelligence recently hosted Isma'il Haniyeh and Ziad al-Nakhaleh as the heads of two large Hamas and Islamic Jihad delegations respectively. We should also not neglect to mention the track that is intended to reconcile these two Islamist factions whose relations have been strained by [Islamic Jihad military commander] Baha'a Abu al-'Ata's assassination [by Israel], in addition to the broader national [Fatah/Hamas] reconciliation track, including the general elections dossier, about which there is currently much ado in Palestine.
 
Notably, for the first time since he took office as Hamas's leader three years ago, Cairo will permit Haniyeh to take a tour abroad, which is expected to include Moscow, Doha, Ankara and perhaps other Arab and Muslim capitals, as a kind of consolation prize. This is a testament of the improved relations between Hamas and Sissi's [Egyptian] regime, and an indication of the progress, especially on the tahdi'a front.
 
The most prominent and robust equation in the Israel/Hamas discussions (via various intermediaries) is that of tahdi'a-for-tahdi'a. Israel speaks of 'total calm' in exchange for facilities and daily life improvements for the Gazans under Hamas leadership, while Hamas will continue to insist on tahdi'a in exchange for lifting the blockade. However, all indications point to the blockade remaining in force. What is on the table will do little more than open some holes and cracks in the siege's solid walls in a bid to encourage Hamas to participate in security protection in the Gaza Strip and, more importantly, guard its borders with Israel to pave the way for the larger conspiracy: One designed to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip as part of the 'deal of the century'.
 
The truth that is hardly lost, given the prolonged state of the split and blockade, is that the highest ceiling of Hamas's demands still falls short of the Gaza Strip's situation before it took over [in 2007] and imposed its rule there. There is a generation of young men and women who appear not to remember the period from the PA's [1994] establishment until Hamas's 2007 coup, when Gaza had an airport and sea port and work was underway to develop and expand and enhance their efficiency, as always with European support.
 
Large numbers of Gazans worked in Israel and did not encounter difficulties traveling, commuting, fishing, or passing through crossings. Trade and the transport of goods, capital, personnel, and services were comparable to the situation in the West Bank today, all the restrictions and difficult terms of the occupation notwithstanding.
 
Gaza did not need an 'artificial island' to give it breathing space or to operate as a platform under Israeli control connected to dry land with a road that can easily be blocked by foot or vehicle patrols. All that was achieved under the [1993] Oslo Authority, or the Security Coordination Authority, or whatever other terms can be used to characterize the PA.
 
After over a decade of Hamas's resistance and shari'a rule, it seems that its achievements fall short of the minimal foundations that the Palestinians established in Yasser Arafat's era. Is there not a lesson to be derived from these conclusions and results?
 
The coming days will tell.