As if yesterday’s paltry showing at the Break-the-Blockade demonstration in Gaza were not enough, today we have additional reason to think that Hamas is not too interested in returning to the status quo ante with Israel. Significant parts of Gaza, the PA has decided, will be put onto Egypt’s electrical grid–thus ending the strip’s dependency on Israel for electricity, and thereby eliminating one of the last remaining signs of “occupation.” Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu applauded the PA’s decision, saying that “We welcome any project that links us to our Arab brothers and ends our relations with the occupation.”
I particularly like the phrase “ends our relations with the occupation.” It suggests that instead of referring to Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza, Israel itself is “the occupation,” which is anyway what Hamas and many other Palestinians have claimed all along. Note to reader: Any time you hear people speak of a “sixty-year occupation,” as they frequently do at the UN and other international forums, this is what they mean.
The transfer of Gaza to Egypt’s electrical grid is a major step towards enabling Israel to wash its hands of Gaza, making it Egypt’s problem–which is what I had previously insisted was really happening with the blockade and its subsequent breach. The winners in this transfer are Israel (which wants to be able to say it’s not occupying anything in Gaza) and Hamas (which is becoming increasingly in charge of what happens in the Palestinian territories); the losers are the PA (which is incapable of maintaining control over the territory it has been given) and Egypt (which has no desire whatsoever to be responsible for Gaza, but now finds itself with little choice). Now we just need to wait for the international community to recognize that when Israel pulls out of “occupied” territory and cuts its economic ties, it cannot be simultaneously blamed for both a “blockade” and an “occupation.” It’s one or the other–or maybe neither.