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Occupation magazine - Commentary

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Some thoughts this morning
Gershon Baskin

The ceasefire proposal being advanced by Shaul Mofaz is gaining traction - and for good reasons. Mofaz proposes adopting an international mechanism, on the basis of the one used by the international community to remove chemical weapons from Syria (which required UNSC approval) to disarm Gaza. In exchange, he proposes an international fund for the reconstruction of Gaza in the amount of $50 billion. That figure comes from a Canadian government report on development needs in Gaza. Mofaz is 100% correct in understanding that we must address the real problems of Gaza where today young people have no reason to hope for a better future.

The main element absent from the Mofaz plan is the political side. The political side is of course renewed genuine negotiations for a two state solution where Gaza is once again part of Palestine and the negotiations lead to an agreement on two-states for two people and ending the Israeli occupation. Without the political side of the plan the other parts will not work. Palestinian political rights for self determination must be treated with respect and must be implemented through a peace agreement.

In the immediate present and after math of this war, it has become clear that the real strategic threat to Israel is not the rockets but the tunnels. According to an American intelligence report Israeli is under-estimating the number of tunnels leading into Israel. These tunnels are a mega-threat to Israel and must be eliminated. (perhaps the Palestinians in Gaza have begun digging the tunnel from Gaza to the West Bank and in a peace treaty could save a lot of money in the eventual connection link between the two parts of the Palestinian state!). The tunnel discovered yesterday leading to Kibbutz Nir Am is 200 meters from the home of my nephew, his wife and two kids, but it is not a personal matter, it impacts the security of the Israeli state.

There can be a ceasefire now and as part of that ceasefire a plan submitted and accepted and imposed if necessary, a plan to deal with the tunnels even after the war is over. A buffer zone of several hundred meters along the Gaza-Israel border could be set for a defined period of time. Internationals led by the US, assisted by Israel and others could use seismic sensors or whatever technology is available to find and destroy the tunnels. If appropriate technology is not available or not successful, they could dig a 30 meters deep line all along the border to find and destroy the tunnels. This must be done and must be part of any ceasefire agreement.

The ceasefire agreement should address all 3 elements that will change life in Gaza and in Israel: the political, security and economic.

It is also important that the national reconciliation government be empowered to act so that new elections can be organized for the Palestinian people to make their choice of who they want to lead them for the years to come. I believe that if there is a process taking place that includes the three elements (political - aimed at ending the occupation. economic - reconstruction and development for Gaza and the West Bank, and security - disarming Gaza, joint Israeli-Palestinian security agreements for peace) the Palestinian people will elect a leadership that will lead them to peace and Hamas will be reduced to a small, insignificant political force in Palestine.

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