What Happens to Gaza If Hamas Is Actually Defeated?
There could be a brighter future for the Palestinian enclave, but only if Arab and Western governments commit to helping to rebuild its cities and political leadership.
Judging by the disastrous aftermath of the regime-change wars in Iraq and Libya, it is never too early to plan for the day after Israel decimates Hamas in Gaza.
On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Gaza “can’t go back to the status quo with Hamas being in a position, in terms of its governance of Gaza, to repeat what it did.” The Israelis have “no intent, no desire, to be running Gaza themselves,” Blinken added. Therefore “something needs to be found, [and] there are different ideas, but all of that needs to be worked… even as Israel is dealing with the current threat.”
The primary candidate to govern Gaza is the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA). In 2007, Hamas killed over 300 PA civil and security officials and ejected the PA from the strip. Since then, the PA has grown even weaker. It has lost control over territory in the West Bank, which has become a hotbed of violent armed groups, such as the Lions’ Den and branches of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
The PA is also too corrupt, and therefore under-resourced, to fund Gaza’s reconstruction. That leaves a space for Arab governments, especially wealthy and efficient Gulf ones, such as those of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, to fill the void.
In 2020, Israel signed the Abraham Accords for peace with the UAE and Bahrain. That year, the UAE promised to fund upgrading of the Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank to automate them and make Palestinian movement seamless. The PA opposed the plan, claiming that making Palestinian lives easier was akin to “decorating a cage” and “entrenching the occupation.”
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