from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

President Carter and Israel--Again

March 29, 2015

Blog Post
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Jimmy Carter writes about (that is to say, against) Israel once again in The Washington Post today, in a column entitled "Rebuild Gaza."

Why is Gaza not being rebuilt? Two reasons. First, Carter says, because Hamas and Fatah are fighting and donors are not delivering: "The $5.4 billion pledged for rebuilding was predicated on the Palestinian Authority asserting itself in Gaza. However, relations between Hamas and its political rivals, Abbas’s Fatah party, remain fraught. The authority has proven unwilling or unable to govern in Gaza. As a result, the promised reconstruction money has not been delivered." True enough. Unless and until donors pony up the cash they promised, there will be little rebuilding. Carter’s solution is international pressure "to implement reconciliation agreements between Fatah and Hamas." (He does not seem to realize that this "reconciliation" between the PA and a terrorist group would doom any possible negotiations between Israel and the PA, but that’s a different subject.)

Then Carter adds this second explanation for Gaza’s troubles:

The shortage of funds is the most immediate problem, but it is not the only one: Israel has restricted access to Gaza....

So he calls for "sustained end Israel’s closure of Gaza. It is incumbent on the world to engage at the highest levels with the Palestinians, Egypt and Israel to push this process forward."

That sentence is the sole reference to Egypt, and it shows what is wrong with Carter’s analysis. The fact is that Gaza has a border not only with Israel, but with Egypt, and that border with Egypt has been closed by the government in Cairo--for security reasons, as it fights Hamas smuggling and terror in the Sinai. Here’s what Hamas said about all this recently, according to the Jerusalem Post:

The Palestinian militant group Hamas on Tuesday called Egypt’s curbs on movement through its crossing with the Gaza Strip a "crime against humanity", in an unprecedented rebuke of its Arab neighbor that further frays their worsening ties. The closures, that Egypt says were introduced because of security concerns, have cut off imports of medicine and aid to the impoverished coastal enclave and prevented travel by thousands of Gazans and patients seeking treatment abroad. Usually open for four to six days per month, the Rafah crossing has now been shut to normal passenger traffic for 40 straight days - although Egyptian authorities have opened it twice in that period for pilgrims to Mecca.

Meanwhile, The Times of Israel reported two weeks ago that

a proposal to end the military blockade on Gaza in return for a long-term ceasefire with Hamas was initiated by Israel and rejected by the Islamic movement over concerns that it would effectively detach the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, a senior Hamas official claimed.

So: Egypt is maintaining a strict blockade on Gaza, Hamas calls it a "crime against humanity," Israel offers to lift its blockade in return for a five-year truce...and President Carter wants more international pressure on Israel and does not even mention Egypt’s blockade when he discusses Gaza’s problems and their possible solutions. That analysis is unbalanced and unfair, as even the comments from Hamas make clear.