Monday, October 17, 2011

David Milibank, UK MP. Comments by me about Gaza on his website.

It is time to look for alternatives that are in the best long term interest of Gaza, the West Bank and the Palestinian diaspora. It is time to also look for alternatives that are in the best interest of all the other players in the region. Not bandages but real long term solutions.
For Gaza and Gaza alone I suggest that they consider applying to become the 82nd province or IL of Turkey.
Consider the dynamics. Gaza and the West Bank united as a completely sovereign and independent single country and all the diaspora home and enjoying massive prosperity? Not in my lifetime.
The solutions for the people of Gaza and the people of the West Bank are just not the same. Square pegs in a round hole and it is time to stop trying to make it work.
Gaza independent? How has that worked with Israel and Egypt so far? Any change in sight? Time to move on.
Gaza as a part of Egypt? Egypt does not even like to consider the current people of the Sinai as Egyptians.
Perhaps as a part of a unified Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Jordan?. (See ) This would work for the West Bank more than Gaza, if then. Even in this scenario Gaza is a backwater of a backwater and left to its own devices is still a thorn in the side of Israel. A non starter as well.
But as the 82nd province of Turkey? First and foremost from Turkey's point of view any invitation such as that from the people of Gaza would be beyond their wildest hopes. A toe hold in the southwest of the Mediterranean. Priceless.
Into such a prize the country of Turkey would pour all the resources it could bring to bear as quickly as possible.
For Gaza? Immediate end to isolation. Freedom of travel. Influx of development monies and job opportunities that would only grow over time. Development of gas fields off shore could begin almost at once adding yet another source of badly needed jobs and revenues.
As a member in good standing in NATO both the US and EU would be hard pressed to deny Turkey the right to establish a sizable military presence in the province. This both to protect its sovereignty and to ensure the end to attacks from the province against Israel.
Could Israel really say no to this?
The one and only thing that could re direct the entire energies of Gaza away from its obsession with eliminating Israel would be it's obsession with trying to keep up with the ever changing developments in a new and vastly improved Gaza. And Turkey is the only viable alternative to be able to do this to with the blessing of all parties involved.
Language and cultural differences? They Turks are slowly allowing the Kurds and other minorities to enjoy more cultural independence. For a Gaza prize this would seem to be almost a minor annoyance to the Turks.
Politically and on the conservative/liberal scale both Gaza and Turkey seem quite compatible.
As for the rest of the Palestinians in the West Bank and worldwide, the sudden and overwhelming advancement of Palestinians within the Gaza province could actually be their most promising development in decades.
With the Gaza question resolved, many other issues among the various regional factions all of the sudden take on new dynamics. The first and forem
ost two being the resolution of the Hamas/Fatah division. The second is the dramatic drop in the numbers of Palestinians one talks about as still needing to find a solution to their ongoing travails. Whether it be some sort of merger between the West Bank and Jordan with major allowances for land and population shifts or within Israel itself, the much lower numbers make solutions more palatable.
If there is to be, as it should have been all along, some variation on any theme that involves the West Bank merging again with Jordan, the one "land for peace" option never discussed but which would be a boon to all parties is trading "facts on the ground" Israeli sections of the West Bank for a combined West Bank/Jordan receiving Eliat on the Gulf of Aqaba. The numbers of people to be moved from there (or given the choice to stay decide to do so) is unbelievably small. And yet the dynamic of a combined Eliat/Aqaba would become a Crown Jewel not only in Jordan but for the entire Arab world as well. The re opening of a contiguous North Africa/ Middle East land passage would be of a value few can appreciate until it becomes reality.
And again the loss of the Gaza numbers would make all of this possible.
One other quick note, the idea of raising the Dead Sea to a level of -1000 feet instead of its more recently considered elevation would create a natural barrier that would go a long way to allaying Israeli fears not having such a security shield in the Jordan Valley. Again the need to move any amounts of people as opposed to other scenarios is negligible. It would be the movement of a few small towns and the evaporation ponds to higher level that are of most difficulty. Small price to pay again for a lasting peace.
And while I dare say that most of the thrust of thinking in the early stages will be the effects upon Turkey, Palestinian and Israeli dynamics, in the long run I propose that it will actually be the direct presence of a Province of Turkey so close to the current Arab countries involved in the Arab Spring that will be the long term positive factor.
The country of Turkey is held in such high regard throughout the region and on top of providing the miracle that is to become Gaza, Turkey would also become a much closer daily model of what a truly Islamic based democracy can achieve.
No matter what happens in the future in the ever changing world that is the Arab Middle East, the enclave of a Turkic Gaza cannot but help to be a guiding beacon for all of its neighbors.
Perhaps a well planned and executed behind the scenes whisper campaign directed at all the various decision makers of note in the region would be a place to at least start a debate on the subject.
The current powers that be in Gaza perhaps might not like the idea, but presented right I am sure that mothers and fathers and children across the zone would come to view the merits positively and press for its consideration.
I thank you for your time, a forum for which to present the idea and wish you luck in your future endeavors.
Gary L. Tucker

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