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With the future of the Egyptian government still in question after the resignation of Hosni Mubarek, and with it the future of Israeli-Egyptian relations, an interesting idea has resurfaced: Returning control of the Gaza Strip to Egypt.
Egypt was given control of the Gaza Strip in 1949 at the end of the Arab-Israeli war. It governed the region either directly or indirectly until 1967 when Israel occupied it after the Six-Day War. In 1993 The Oslo Accords created the Palestinian Authority to govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, and in 2005 the Israelis withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
Since then neither Israel or Egypt has wanted anything to do with the Gaza Strip. Israel has basically fenced in the 1.5 million or so residents and the residents have responded by electing Hamas to a majority of seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council and firing rockets into Israel, prompting the Gaza War in 2008.
Enter the new Egyptian government sometime this year.
While nobody knows what the new government in Egypt will look like let's assume that it is a civil democratic government which, along with the Egyptian military currently in control of the government, values the long peace with Israel and Egypt's relationship with the US. If so then it should be of great importance to the new Egyptian government to reach out to both the US and Israel to make that position clear. The Egyptian military, in particular, would seem to have about $1.3 billion worth of reasons annually to ensure that the new Egyptian government maintains its close ties to the US and the US will naturally have an interest in insuring that the Arab-Israeli peace is maintained.
The Israelis have many reasons for desiring a change in the dynamics of their border with the Gaza Strip and no desire to occupy it again. The Egyptians, following the conventional wisdom of the Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank, have maintained that a future Palestinian state would include both areas. Perhaps now is a good time for the conventional wisdom to change.
If the Gaza Strip was annexed by Egypt, policed by Egypt, it's borders with Israel maintained and normalized as the rest of the Egypt-Israeli border, and if real representation in the new Egyptian government was given to the people of the Gaza Strip it could be the tipping point towards lasting peace in the region. The people of Gaza could enjoy the peace, prosperity and increased freedom that would come with citizenship in a modern democracy, and Israel would gain increased security on its southern border and the marginalization of Hamas as a political force, which could inspire new vigor in negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Inscribed by Bill at 2:35 PM