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Gaza Problem … $100 Billion and Solved

 

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Here’s a thought experiment – no emotion, just logic. Sometimes good ideas arise from asking “what if?”

First a little context. Gaza is tiny at 365 square kilometers, but it has about 2 million inhabitants. About a third of its infrastructure has also now been essentially demolished. Geographically, it sticks up into west-central Israel like a sore thumb, having been captured by the Egyptians in 1948, lost by them to Israel in 1967, and withdrawn from by Israel in 2005. Since then, it has been an independent statelet, ruled by Hamas’ jihadist government. The rest is recent history.

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According to Hamas and the United Nations, it is a territory of refugees from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War of Independence, and these refugees have been “taken care of” by UN’s UNRWA. These refugees, numbered about 80,000 in 1948 and since then have had many children and grandchildren, so they now number about two million. The UN still defines these generations as refugees, including Palestinians who may be living in Rome or New York; ok, let’s not argue that for the purposes of this thought experiment.

Gaza as a “land” does not hold any particular sentimentality or history for the Gazan-Palestinians; certainly, none pre- 1948. Neither has life been good for them, as their Hamas government has stolen most of the world’s donations to Gaza. That is not disputable, and it has been tragic for most of these Gazan-Palestinians.

Let’s say, for purposes of our experimental thinking, that the average Gazan has not enjoyed life very much since 1948. High density, unemployment, poverty, lack of education, lack of decent health services, intimidation, corruption, dictatorship, lots of hateful education and indoctrination by their Jihadist government. We could on and on, but let’s not. Let us also be generous and assume that the average Gazan family voted for Hamas because there was little choice; Hamas had guns, were fierce, were intimidating, and they could exploit freely and punish severely. Hamas had zero tolerance for opposition. And they indoctrinated the children which was one of the most tragic results of Hamas rule – with UNRWA schools enabling and participating in this – but that is another conversation. I’m going to try to be cool , detached, rational, and pragmatic from this point on in my article.

So, let us for a moment accept that the average Gazan wants what most people want, a safe and quiet life; educated and healthy children; a roof over their heads and bread on the table; a job providing dignity and income;  a day at the beach from time to time; sipping tea in their patio or garden – you know, normal good stuff.

Ok, let’s give it to them.

Rethinking Gaza: A Pragmatic Proposal for a New Beginning

About 60 Km south of the Gaza-Egypt border lies the nice Egyptian Sinai town of El Arish, on the Mediterranean with its port and international airport. You can buy or build a really nice house there for about $50,000 USD. It has the same weather as Gaza, dry, lots of beach, and a community that is culturally, religiously, linguistically, and gastronomically similar to Gaza. The two million in Gaza could disappear and be completely assimilated into the 110+ million people of Egypt.

The two million Gazans with an average family size of six, translates to 334,000 families. Let’s offer every Gaza family a house, fully paid for; that’s $17 Billion USD. Let’s provide even greater incentive, depositing into each family’s bank account, $200,000 USD; that translates to $67 Billion USD. Not enough? Ok – in addition, to get these families really starting off well, let’s provide a monthly pension for 10 years in an amount equal to the average Egyptian salary ($300 USD/month). That 10-year cost translates to $18 Billion. Adding up all those billions of dollars ($17 bn +$67 bn $18 bn) totals $102 Billion USD. Yes, it’s a lot of money, but Israel could scrape it together.

Let’s be singularly pragmatic for a moment. Absent those comments and commentators who would politicize or exploit Gazans, by refusing “on their behalf” a good life; absent labels like ethnic cleansing, dispossession, colonialism – all those emotion-triggering and criticizing labels – why not provide Gazans the freedom to choose their own path? A free home, $200,000 USD in the bank (a fortune in Egypt), and a monthly pension for 10 years. If you want to call that “reparations,” be my guest; it doesn’t matter. Results matter: it likely empties Gaza, makes for a secure and natural geographical border for Israel, allows two million Gazans to live very nicely, and with opportunities and a future under Egyptian rule. Hamas would have a hard time re-establishing themselves. Problem solved … perhaps forever.

Envisioning a Future Beyond Conflict for Gaza, Israel, and Egypt

In fact, it would be a three-way, super win. People of Gaza, the big winners with a good life; Israel, with a straightened out, natural border, with zero risk from their western flank; and Egypt, with the influx of huge capital to boost their failing economy. Egypt’s Foreign Exchange Reserves was measured at 24 USD bn in Jan 2024; this idea quadruples it. President El-Sisi should be overjoyed. The losers? Hamas has no one left to govern in Gaza, and no one to scapegoat; it withers and dies. The last stakeholder, UNRWA, is both a loser and a winner; their 12,000 jobs in Gaza are over. Legitimate refugee NGOs see success when refugees are re-settled and happy. Those at UNRWA, including the leadership, would likely be unhappy that their days of perpetuating Gazan/Palestinian victimhood and displacement have come to an end with the successful settlement of these refugees.

For those Israelis who cannot allow themselves to put aside their understandable emotions for purposes of considering this thought experiment, because they see the idea as a reward for the enmity and the horrific violence, I say the following –

As for those 365 sq miles that Israel just essentially bought for $102 Billion USD (note: that’s $436,000 per acre) – eventually, 100,000 Israeli families would each pay $1 M USD for a nice condominium on the Gaza beach. That’s the $100 Billion.

For all of Egypt’s rhetoric, my sense is that they would consider participating in an idea of this magnitude, not by philosophizing with them, nor by trading historical perspectives – but by putting a hundred billion American dollars on the table and asking them if they want those dollars inside Egypt.

To summarize, this theoretical proposal to solve the Gaza problem hinges on a bold, $100 billion plan aimed at transforming the lives of Gaza’s inhabitants while reshaping the geopolitical landscape of the region. By relocating Gazans to a similar environment in Egypt with fully funded housing and substantial financial support, the idea seeks not just to alleviate immediate hardships but to offer a sustainable path to prosperity and stability. This radical reimagining of Gaza’s future promises a win-win-win outcome: a dignified, prosperous life for the people of Gaza free from the grip of Hamas; a secure and peaceful southern-western sea border for Israel; and a significant economic boost for Egypt through a massive infusion of capital. Critics and skeptics might abound, but the essence of this thought experiment lies in its pragmatic approach to a seemingly intractable conflict, prioritizing human welfare and regional stability over political deadlock and historical grievances.

About the Author
Teich, based in Toronto, is an international strategy, market growth, and communications consultant for emerging economies and organizations. With a past role as CEO and extensive experience in over 80 countries and cultures, he's now semi-retired, continuing his consultancy, an author of two best-sellers, and an avid follower of history and current affairs.
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