Friday, January 19, 2024

There are lots of articles about "the day after" in Gaza. 

Most of them envision some sort of Palestinian self-rule. The US, Saudi Arabia and others are pushing a  "revitalized" Palestinian Authority.

This is a recipe for disaster. Palestinians overwhelmingly support Hamas and destroying Israel, in survey after survey. If there are elections, the terror supporters will win handily, just as they did in the last elections.

No one has come up with a better plan than my suggestion two months ago to turn Gaza into an emirate of the UAE.

As I wrote then (this is slightly modified):
There is one country that could turn Gaza into a wonderful place: the UAE. Gaza should become the fifth United Arab Emirate.

The UAE is at peace with Israel. it could pour massive amounts of money into rebuilding Gaza into a paradise. It wouldn't allow Islamists to gain a toehold. 

Gazans would suddenly live in a place that has a future. The UAE and Israel could work on joint business ventures and economic zones to help employment and bring Gaza up to modern standards. One could imagine luxury hotels and high tech skyscrapers being built on the shores of the Mediterranean.

Gazans would become citizens of an Arab country and 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, with Emirati entrepreneurs moving to Gaza to take advantage of a blank slate. Which is not dissimilar to how they built the UAE to begin with.

Why would the UAE be interested? Well, a port on the Mediterranean is a pretty big carrot. Shipping lanes from and to Europe would be a huge economic boost. Working with Israel, the proposed train line from the Gulf to Israel could be extended a bit to Gaza to tie the Gulf countries closer to the sea as well.

Beyond that, there are some significant gas deposits off the coast of Gaza. No one wants to risk drilling there now, but the UAE would solve that problem. 

Also, Palestinians are among the best educated Arabs. There is a competent workforce already there. 

Moreover, Gaza could become a money-making tourism destination. Wealthy Europeans could rub shoulders with wealthy Arabs and make deals much closer to home.

Gazans would have huge opportunities to work and thrive. There would be no more "refugees" in Gaza. UNRWA would be gone.

Egypt would be thrilled to have such a neighbor.The entire Sinai could benefit from increased trade.
Since then, my suggestion makes even more sense.

Right now, there is competition between Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE for influence over the Levant. Talal Mohammad writes in Foreign Policy:
Israel and the United States—its most important ally—have insisted that [Hamas] can have no role in Gaza’s future administration. Instead, both have proposed the establishment of a multinational force that would include a role for Arab states—including those in the Persian Gulf. This means that Gaza could become a hot spot for geopolitical rivalries between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatari influence is disastrous. They support Hamas both with direct aid and through Al Jazeera, by far the most influential source of news in the Middle East. They cannot have a role in the future of Gaza.

Saudi Arabia might want more influence, but without peace with Israel, it is highly limited in what it can do.

The UAE is the solution.

Some people responded to my idea by saying the UAE wouldn't be interested, but as the FP article notes:
The UAE, which balances relations between major powers such as Russia and the United States, has expansionist ambitions. In addition to Yemen and Sudan, Abu Dhabi also backs proxies in conflicts in the Horn of Africa and Libya.
This would be a peace dividend for the UAE - a reward for the Abraham Accords.  If anything, this benefit for the UAE would pressure Saudi Arabia to normalize relations with Israel to have its own  place at the table. 

The article floats the idea of Mohammed Dahlan, the former Gaza Fatah strongman who now lives in Abu Dhabi, taking a role in rebuilding Gaza . I am not sure he is the best choice - most Palestinians can't stand him. But any UAE-approved leader of the "Emirate of Palestine" would be ruthless in suppressing the Islamists in Gaza, and that ruthlessness is what is needed for any plan to work. But they would also bring in billions to rebuild Gaza into a Singapore.

There is a lot of money in the Gulf to rebuild Gaza - but no one wants to spend a dime if there is a chance that Israel will destroy the new buildings in a few years, virtually a guarantee if Hamas or a successor has a role there. But Israel would fully support the UAE's ambitions for Gaza. It will never attack an ally.

A Gaza emirate instantly converts Gaza from an enemy to a friend. Isn't that what everyone dreams of? Besides those who want to destroy Israel, that is. 

Moreover, the UAE has 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 a port in Gaza, it could be on both ends of the shipping traffic. 

The UAE is uniquely positioned to turn the Gaza lemons into lemonade. This is the real reward for the Abraham Accords - a port on the Mediterranean, access to gas reserves off Gaza, and the opportunity to solve the Gaza quagmire not just for a few years but forever. 

It is easy to poke holes in any idea, especially one as out of the box as this one. The political obstacles are formidable.  But can anyone suggest anything that is better? Or one that could be expected to last for decades?

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. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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