How to achieve Gaza’s transfer?
Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests to me that Jerusalem announce three steps: “a date certain for the severing of Israel’s provision of water, electricity and trade access, free entry for replacement services through Egypt, and an invitation for international support to link Gaza to Egyptian grids.” Giora Eiland, a former Israeli national security adviser, would also detach Gaza from its customs union with Israel and the West Bank.
These Israeli initiatives would force the Egyptian hand. Sure, the Egyptians, with help from Fatah and even Hamas, will try to resurrect the border and put the onus back on Israel. But in the end, Arab solidarity demands that Egyptian “brothers” fill in for the Israeli enemy. Once Jerusalem cuts supplies, Cairo has no choice but to furnish them. Economic dependence would then further involve Egypt, which has further consequences. It:
— Revives the old idea of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict via a three-way partition by Egypt, Israel, and Jordan.
— Permits Hamas to connect with its parent organization, the Muslim Brethren. Indeed, Egyptian security forces have already arrested at least 12 armed Hamas members in Egypt and other Gazans with suicide belts. Controlling Islamist violence out of Gaza will become an Egyptian priority – but Mubarak has coped with Islamists throughout his 27-year presidency and he can deal with this new challenge in ways that Israel cannot.
— Limits the freedom for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to attack Israel. Yes, Egyptians want rockets falling on Sderot, but Cairo knows that their continuation invites Israeli reprisals and possibly a full-scale war.
To prevent Gazans from creating trouble in Egypt or attacking Israel requires heavy policing of their territory. This presumably means loosening the stringent restrictions on the deployment of Egyptian forces near the border with Israel in Annex I to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Fortunately, Egyptian security services in Gaza need be only lightly armed and the Multinational Force & Observers in the Sinai peninsula could add this monitoring duty to their tasks.
In brief, Gaza can be dumped on Egypt with confidence that the Egyptians must accept it and must impede Gazans from attacking Israel. Starting this “peace process,” though, will require uncharacteristic imagination and energy from Israel and the Western states.