Gaza is blessed with a plethora of natural resources, including arable land, access to water and extensive natural gas deposits. It should be a wealthy and successful nation state like Monaco. Its location on the Mediterranean Sea and generally temperate and dry climate make it an excellent destination for vacationers, especially those who also enjoy cruising the Mediterranean. It’s easy to imagine beachfront luxury hotels and casinos serving a vibrant tourist trade.
There’s just one problem; Gaza is being held hostage by a tyrannical terrorist regime that wants to murder Jews, eliminate Israel, preys on its other neighbor Egypt, extorts money from the US and other western nations in what amounts to a global protection racket, commits charity fraud to secure funding from NGO’s and other ignorant dupes, oppresses the people of Gaza and consorts with the Iranian Regime to bring misery to the world. The criminal players may change; sometimes styling themselves as PLO, PA, Hamas, PIJ or other pseudonyms or they may clothe themselves in positions and garb provided by the UN, including UNWRA, but the program is the same, steal, rape and pillage.
Israel tried mightily to achieve peace with Gaza. The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, signed on September 28, 1995 (known as Oslo II), formally ended even the pretense of the so-called ‘occupation’.
Lest there be any misunderstanding, the Palestinian Authority (PA) admitted this inconvenient fact in UN documents such as the recent 2023 UNESCO World Heritage Site designation relating to Jericho and in connection with UN aid regarding its property tax system in 2010. They describe the period from 1967-1994 as the so-called occupation period. Indeed, the property tax documents expressly notes “After the occupied Palestinian territory was transferred to the sovereignty of the National Authority [PA], direct taxes and local taxes fell under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.”
Oslo II provides for self-government in the areas assigned to the PA and critical and essential security arrangements. This included Gaza, which was subsequently taken over by Hamas. Oslo II also includes extensive demilitarization requirements. Thus, while Oslo II provides for the PA to have a police force, other armed forces were not permitted. Article XIV expressly provides:
“…no organization, group or individual in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip shall manufacture, sell, acquire, possess, import or otherwise introduce into the West Bank or the Gaza Strip any firearms, ammunition, weapons, explosives, gunpowder or any related equipment.”
Article XV requires the parties to:
“take all measures necessary in order to prevent acts of terrorism, crime and hostilities directed against each other, against individuals falling under the other’s authority and against their property, and shall take legal measures against offenders.”
Had the PA and Hamas honored this milestone Agreement in good faith and kept the peace as intended, then what is commonly referred to as a two-state solution would have been implemented long ago. Unfortunately, instead of pursuing peace and devoting all those wonderful resources and beneficent foreign aid from the US, EU, Israel and other western and Arab nations to developing Gaza into a paradise, Hamas attacked Israel, built Gaza into a vast military outpost for offensive wars against Israel, nestled in urban areas designed to make maximum use of human shields and committed murder, atrocities and other horrific malign actions, including against the people of Gaza. This is not something that had to be, it was a cruel and deliberate choice of Hamas.
Consider, for example, a similar model peace and security agreement involving France and Monaco, which has worked in practice for more than a century. Under the Franco-Monegasque Treaty of 1918, which was formally noted in the Treaty of Versailles, Monaco was recognized as a sovereign and independent state. However, it was France that was responsible for the defense of Monaco. France patrols the sea adjacent to and airspace above Monaco. The only security forces within Monaco are the police force and the Prince’s Guard; Monaco otherwise has no armed forces. The foreign relations of Monaco are the responsibility of a Minister of State, who is a French citizen appointed by the Prince from among several senior French civil servants proposed by the French government. The cordial relations between the two states were further deepened in 2017 with the signing of a general security agreement.
The Monaco solution is a practical model for those interested in genuine peace that is sustainable. It provides for self-government, independence and sovereignty, as well as, security for all parties concerned, especially against foreign threats. Just imagine if Hamas landed on Monaco’s beaches, took over Monaco and committed an October 7th invasion of France, brutally murdering French citizens, carrying out horrible atrocities and kidnapping French women and children and abusing them. It would be absurd to believe France would hesitate to use overwhelming force to eradicate Hamas and attempt to save the hostages. Is there any doubt that France would be morally justified in doing so, as well as, duty bound under its Treaty with Monaco to come to its defense.
In essence, Oslo II established a similar structure for Gaza as the Monaco solution. However, unlike Monaco, Gaza under the PA and then Hamas was not genuinely interested in living side by side in peace with Israel.
The PA was in charge at the beginning and entered into the 2005 Disengagement Agreement noted below. Hamas took over in 2007 and it might fairly be viewed as a foreign oppressive regime. It is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt and effectively an agent of the terrorist Iranian Regime. Even its leadership resides in Qatar, a foreign country. Other than wielding locals as pawns in a war against Israel, it has no interest in developing Gaza for the benefit of those living there. Hamas’ raison d’être is seeking the elimination of Israel and the extermination of Jews, as a part of a grand scheme to conquer the west and eliminate Christians and other non-Muslims. As outlined below, its leaders view Gaza merely as a secure base of operations against Israel.
The PA is not much better. As Arafat stated, in his infamous speech in a Johannesburg Mosque, when he attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa, on May 10, 1994, the Jihad (Islamic Holy War) would continue and Jerusalem was not for the Palestinian people, it was for the entire Muslim nation. He also declared that the original Oslo Agreement of 1993 was nothing more than a temporary truce and his goal was to take all of Israel, starting with Jerusalem. He even said he was in need of the Moslems in the Mosque audience to join as warriors of Jihad.
Abbas, Arafat’s deputy and then successor, has a long history of paying lip service to peace in discussions with US interlocutors and then laughing it off when addressing another audience. Thus, for example, Abbas said in an interview with the London-based Qatari daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi that he would not give in to the American and Israeli demand to stop payments to the families of prisoners and martyrs, calling them “fighters” and underlining his obligation to them. At the July 23, 2018 Ramallah ceremony, which was to honor prisoners, Abbas conferred medals on the families of the “martyred prisoners” and on the released prisoners, and said:
“We will neither reduce nor prevent [payment] of allowances to the families of martyrs, prisoners, and released prisoners, as some seek, and if we had only a single penny left, we would pay it to families of the martyrs and prisoners.”
He went on to stress:
“From our standpoint, the martyrs and prisoners are stars in the firmament of the Palestinian people’s struggle, and take priority in every matter. In 1965, a few days after the outbreak of the Palestinian revolution, the first mission undertaken by the martyr late president Yasser Arafat was to establish an institution to care for the families of the martyrs and the mujahideen of Palestine – for they are the pioneers and must be cared for, and we will care for them.”
He also expressed his deep appreciation for the activity on the prisoners’ behalf, and noted that it “paves the way for the liberation of Palestine.”
Is it any wonder that even the State Department reportedly determined that the PA had “not taken proactive steps to counter incitement to violence against Israel” and the “incitement to violence and glorification of terrorism occur in public statements and social media posts by PA officials and politicians, in official media broadcasts and social media outlets, and in school textbooks”. Abbas’ deputy chairman at the PLO brazenly admitted that the PA security forces fight alongside terrorists against Israel and that they are all one.
It is also important to note that the PA reportedly does not have complete control over the areas it governs. Armed groups form rival factions, including Hamas, PIJ and others rein free. They are responsible for terrorist attacks on Israel and lawlessness, including in Jenin and Nablus. How can Abbas be trusted to govern Gaza or prevent it from reverting back into a terrorist state again? Moreover, as noted above, Abbas glorifies terrorists and rewards them financially under the PA Pay to Slay program. He also continues to block general elections for the PA, arrests and intimidates his political opponents, refuses to share power with others and muzzles freedom of expression.
We must also not forget the glaring failures of the past, which resulted from delusional fantasies that ignored facts like those summarized above. Remember that despite the fact that the PA utterly failed to honor Oslo II and even unleashed a new wave of terrorism directly contrary to the terms of the agreement, at the urging of the US, in a fool-hardy attempt to promote the ultimate goals of Oslo II notwithstanding PA willful defaults, a grand experiment was instituted. Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. For all intents and purposes peace should have been achieved then. As the wise Charles Krauthammer, Z”L wrote, “…Israel evacuated Gaza completely. It declared the border between Israel and Gaza an international frontier. Gaza became the first independent Palestinian territory in history. Yet Gazans continued the war…Why? Because occupation was a mere excuse to persuade gullible and historically ignorant Westerners to support the Arab cause against Israel. The issue is, and has always been, Israel’s existence. That is what is at stake.”
However, predictably, the Gaza experiment turned out to be a catastrophic failure, as most recently evidenced by the October 7th Hamas invasion of Israel and the murderous massacre, unspeakable atrocities and horrible kidnappings it committed. Evil Hamas is an antisemitic, racist, misogynistic, ant-LGBTQ, tyrannical and oppressive regime. Ever since 2007, when it took over governing Gaza, it has been in a perpetual state of war with Israel. Hamas and its terrorist cohorts, backed by the Iranian Regime, have also succeeded in infiltrating areas controlled by the PA in Judea and Samaria.
Moreover, the PA also continues to flout its obligations under Oslo II. Indeed, instead of curtailing terrorist activity against Israel, it actually encourages and rewards it, under its notorious ‘Pay to Slay’ program. Neither Hamas nor the PA has reformed and each continues to maintain school systems that are virtual factories of Jew hatred. All this in spite of pledges to reform and funding conditioned on that reform.
Yet, regardless all these undeniable failures, there are still some in the Biden Administration who express a fanciful vision for a post-war Gaza that is nothing more than a re-heated version, with some possible window dressing, of Gaza pre-October 7th. It’s well past time to wake up and recognize that no matter how well intentioned, the Gaza post-2005 experiment was a fiasco. It is perilous to ignore this fact. Not only did it not lead to a lasting peace, but by the US and EU ignoring, excusing or condoning malign actions by Hamas and the PA and even continuing to reward the terrorist regimes, directly or indirectly, with funding despite their malevolent deeds, it can fairly be said that they too bear some responsibility for October 7th.
Undeterred by all of the foregoing, Secretary of State Blinken reportedly nevertheless took up the matter of post-war governance in Gaza with PA president Abbas, who expressed his desire to take over Gaza. The absurdity of this initiative is risible. After all, Gazans had rejected PA rule in 2007 and polls showing Hamas candidates would likely also beat Abbas and his Fatah party, if an election were held on Abbas’ home turf in the PA controlled areas. It would appear that Blinken previously did pay lip service to the issue when he noted, an “effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority” was needed to govern Gaza. Parenthetically, he just as well could have added for the PA controlled areas too.
However, did Blinken take up what was required in detail with Abbas? Indeed, did he tell Abbas that he must not make the Pay to Slay payments he promised to Hamas terrorists or their families or anyone else for that matter? Did he tell Abbas that he had to clean house and eliminate Hamas and PIJ operatives in the areas the PA controlled? Did he discuss what was required to reform the PA/UNWRA school system, including firing those teaching Jew hatred, eliminating antisemitic materials and revising the curriculum to acknowledge the existence and legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel and teach respect for Jews, Christians and those of other non-Muslim faiths? Did he demand that Abbas finally amend the PLO Charter to recognize Israel and do so under PA law? Did he demand the repeal of the Pay to Slay law, as well as, the law prohibiting land sales to Jews? Did he call out Abbas for his Temple denial and Holocaust denial? Did he insist that Abbas talk about all of this in a speech broadcast not only in English but also in Arabic to his people and lay out the vital need for these reforms and the steps that would be taken to implement them? Beyond talk alone, what are the tangible consequences for the PA’s misfeasance and malfeasance? When will aid payments to the PA be cut off until these essential reforms are achieved?
None of the reports of the meeting speak about any of this. It appears that there is no genuine belief that any of these necessary reforms can ever be achieved. Yet the virtue signaling and pious pronouncements continue without any appreciation that they not only serve no useful purpose; but, even embolden wrongdoers, because of the lack of any true accountability and tangible consequences for malign activities. Delusions are what enabled the Gazan terrorist state to be created in the first place and after its catastrophic failure why risk repeating the same fatal mistake.
In reality there is no substantive difference between Hamas and the PA led by Abbas. Neither has accepted the existence of Israel and the PA hasn’t tangibly demonstrated its abhorrence of Hamas’ atrocities. Indeed, Abbas has actually committed to paying the Hamas terrorists, who perpetrated the atrocities, ‘Pay to Slay’ rewards of millions of dollars. It’s also reported that Abbas’ party Fatah bragged about its own participation in the atrocities. Murderous terrorists who attacked Israel on October 7th had PA pay-slips in their pockets. The streets of PA controlled areas witnessed rallies in support of Hamas, glorifying their despicable misdeeds. The muted condemnation by Abbas of Hamas’ outrages on October 7th are reportedly only spoken in private and not publicly and are qualified by falsely referring to targeting of civilians by both sides, as opposed to just by Hamas. Beyond that it is reported that one of the leaders of the PA, in talks with the US on a plan to run Gaza after the Hamas war has been insisting that the goal of fully defeating Hamas is unrealistic and that instead Hamas should join the PA under a new governing structure. PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh reportedly revealed his preferred outcome of the Hamas war would be for Hamas to become a junior partner under the broader PLO.
In Gaza, Hamas terrorists felt comfortable publicly parading their hostages and showing videos of their atrocities. The sadistic murderers were treated as heroes. Celebrations over the massacre also broke out in the PA controlled areas. The PA has not reined in terrorists operating from the PA controlled areas against Israel. In addition, Fatah calls for everyone with a weapon to join in committing terrorist attacks.
In a recent interview, Khaled Mashal, a leader of Hamas, outright rejected the two-state solution. He caustically noted how they keep pulling out the old merchandise of the two-state solution. He went on to say that there is a consensus among Palestinians that they were entitled to all of the existing land of Israel. He defined it as from the Jordan River to Mediterranean Sea and in the north from Rosh Hanikra to the south, Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba. He was very clear, no recognition of Israel, rather the elimination of Israel. He noted that this concept, embodied in the slogan ‘from the river to the sea’, is chanted in western capital cities by the Americans, western public and students.
Mashal said that October 7 has renewed this dream and hope and shown that it is a realistic idea, not merely a dream. He went on to discuss how Hamas coming to power was a necessity, in order to serve the people and to protect what he referred to as ‘the resistance’, meaning the goal of conquering all of Israel. It provided a political and administrative cover in all the Palestinian institutions and gave the resistance a free hand to operate. He noted that Hamas used its rule of Gaza to build up the resistance, including weapons, weapons production, planning, training and the tunnels, while its backs were safe. In this regard, he even took a swipe at the PA, noting Hamas operated without any security coordination with Israel as required under Oslo II and there was no PA in Gaza to persecute Hamas.
Both Israel and Egypt have made clear that neither wants to run Gaza. Indeed, Israeli Defense Minister Gallant said Israel would not retain governance of Gaza after Hamas was eliminated. He offered, “The third step will be the creation of a new security regime in the Gaza Strip, the removal of Israel’s responsibility for day-to-day life in the Gaza Strip…”
The only way to have an alternative to the repugnant Hamas and PA terror regimes is to organize one. Responsible parties must be identified and supported to create a way out of this moral morass. They cannot resemble in any way the tyrannical, kleptocratic, antisemitic, anti-Christian and anti-American Hamas regime, which on October 7th, not only murdered and committed atrocities against Israelis, Americans and others, but also murders and oppresses its own people.
It begins with the Biden Administration stopping to circumvent the Taylor Force Act. By failing to cut off any support for Pay to Slay, the Administration is, in effect, financially rewarding the murder of over 30 Americans and kidnapping of others held hostage. We also must not forget that as recently as November 6, 2023, an Israeli-American policewoman in Jerusalem was murdered by a terrorist, as well as the other thousands of Israelis, Americans (like Taylor Force ob”m and Malki Roth z”l) and others who have been murdered or injured by terrorists originating from the PA controlled areas, over the years. There is a reason why the Taylor Force Act was adopted and the lack of a serious enforcement effort under the Act is inexplicable. In a time when an unequivocal demonstration of moral clarity is critical, the failure to enforce the relevant and most cogent provisions of the Taylor Force Act is inexcusable.
The Biden Administration must also desist from interfering with Israel’s sacred mission of eradicating the evil that is Hamas and its cohorts, in Gaza and elsewhere. Israel is conducting a just war and doing so in compliance with the laws of war.
October 7th demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the status quo, delusions about a peace process and two-state solution and the Biden Administration’s appeasement policies are an abject failure. There’s a reality that’s inescapable. Israel, America’s loyal and invaluable ally and friend, exists in a hostile environment made all the more dangerous by the current Administration’s pandering to the terrorist regime in Iran and its proxies, as well as the PA. Virtue signaling for domestic consumption and mixed messaging only serves to embolden the terrorists. It’s time to be clear and unequivocal not only in general support of Israel and its mission to eradicate evil Hamas, but also in detail so as to avoid any ambiguity or misunderstanding.
Hamas’ goal was not just to massacre 1,200 Israelis, Americans and others, but also to destroy Israel and massacre Jews. As noted above, the elimination of Israel is also the goal of Abbas’ PLO and by extension the PA. It’s also the stated goal of the axis of evil, led by terrorist Iranian regime, backing Hamas, as well as its other proxies, as demonstrated by the Houthis firing ballistic missiles against Israel and the rockets fired by Hezbollah. They also threaten America, which they derogatorily refer to as the ‘Big Satan’ (Israel’s referred to as the ‘Little Satan’), Christians and other non-Muslims.
Peace is possible with a former enemy that wants peace; it’s not possible with a current enemy that doesn’t desire it. So long as the PA doesn’t truly recognize Israel in word and deed, insists on retaining Hamas and actually supports Israel’s destruction, it cannot be a true peace partner.
The Biden Administration must recognize that there’s no chance for peace with the current PA regime or Hamas. A hybrid formulation or less than totally changed PA, under new leadership genuinely committed to pursuing and promoting peace with Israel is just a transparent artifice, a proverbial distinction without difference or merit. The US must accept that the PA is not the answer and move on and seek other real alternatives.
The major goal of this defensive war by Israel is to ensure that evil Hamas is totally defeated, free the hostages, assure there is no longer any threat of missiles or rockets being fired into Israel and enable the hundreds of thousands of Israelis evacuated from southern and northern Israel to be able to return safely to their homes. Gaza must be totally demilitarized and security protocols must be but in place that prevent rearming, rebuilding tunnels or the pursuit of any war or terrorism against Gaza’s neighbors, Egypt and Israel.
Until then there must not be any equivocation or ambiguity about the US’s support for Israel and its moral imperative to prosecute its defensive war against evil Hamas to conclusion and to achieve the legitimate war aims outlined above. May Israel succeed in its sacred mission and may the valiant solders of the IDF and the hostages be returned home safely.
Even the people of Gaza appear to be waking up to the evil that is Hamas. There are reports of Gazans demanding the release of the hostages and end of the Hamas war. A popular uprising against Hamas would be most welcome, if it allowed new leadership to emerge who were devoted to peace with Israel and improving the lives of the people of Gaza. It’s time for the people of Gaza and new leadership to embrace the spirit and principles of the Monaco solution and may the blessings of peace prevail.