I want to suggest a triple strategy to solving the hostage crisis, ending the war without further bloodshed, and a three-state solution for a better Middle East.
In the time remaining before Israeli ground troops enter Gaza in order to eradicate Hamas, and in order to avoid harm to the hostages and our soldiers, we need to apply some original thinking and come up with a plan that can solve three problems, and I have that triple solution.
I have a strategy to solve the hostage crisis, ending the war in Gaza without bloodshed, and giving Gaza a better future without Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or even the corrupt, incompetent, and unpopular, Mahmoud Abbas.
The answer to all these dilemmas in one word – Qatar.
Qatar is the wealthy Arab country in which the leaders of Hamas luxuriate and supervise Hamas actions in Gaza.
Qatar is a rich Arab country that has a well-deserved bad reputation as being the generator of radical Islam.
Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of violent jihad and Palestinian terrorism died in September 2022 in Doha.
Qatar is the Islamic state that has pumped billions of dollars into Gaza to aid the people.
Israel has a sort of relationship with Qatar over Gaza. When Israel complained that Qatar money was being seized by Hamas and not going to Gazans, Qatar changed the rules and supervised the next distribution of money directly to the people.
The US rents military facilities in Qatar and the United States allows Qatar to sponsor US campuses where they spawn anti-American, anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian indoctrination in American universities. But my theory is that Qatar could be the solution to the Hamas problem in Gaza.
Qatar hosted a summit between Iran and Hamas. This after the Iranian Foreign Minister had a summit in Beirut with Hezbollah. Ominous signs.
With Hamas increasingly on the backfoot and Gaza in ruin, it would greatly benefit Qatar to moderate its tarnished reputation by transitioning into a more pragmatic peace partner if it really cares for the people of Gaza and Hamas.
Qatar is already negotiating with Hamas for the release of the hostages, coordinating with the United States, but Israel does not trust a situation in which the American and non-Israel hostages will be released leaving the Israeli men, women, and children to their fate.
My solution to the crisis is unconventional but practical.
My plan would result in the Hamas terrorists being allowed to leave Gaza alive by relocating them to Qatar, subject to them first releasing all the hostages.
There is one additional condition. Every known member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad is also forced to leave Gaza. No residue of Islamic terror must remain in Gaza.
Their release would be supervised by the United Nations, Qatar, Egypt, and the United States.
This would achieve the primary aim aims of Israel’s operation in Gaza. Cleansing Gaza of every Hamas member and affiliate PIJ.
Instead of killing them, they get deported to Qatar, and Gaza is sanitized of the evil of murderous radical Islam making it the fulcrum of a new normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.
The additional condition would be that any Hamas member that leaves Qatar would be subject to immediate arrest and put on trial on terrorism and war crime charges, preferably in the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
The political vacuum of a destroyed Gaza would be the opportunity to rethink and rebuild Gaza into the paradise that Israel once expected it to be when Israel once invested there.
A new Gaza can become the new Arab Cote D-Azur on the Mediterranean as imagined by the Israelis who began to build and develop that paradise in Gaza.
They imagined Gaza to become an agricultural and tourism paradise for Arab-Israeli cooperation.
Then they were evicted for the cause of peace. That peace became the nightmare of Hamas.
This must never happen again.
A Gaza, without the curse of Palestinian hatred and terrorism, opens up the opportunity of doing away with the failed two-state non solution that has caused a fifty-year trail of distrust, conflict, and death to too many Israelis.
Gaza opens the opportunity of doing away with this two-state failure, replacing it with a new three-state solution.
The planners should be Israel’s wealthy Arab partners of the Abraham Accords, joined by Saudi Arabia and the United States as the initial investors in a new peaceful resort country of Gaza.
Israel can add its technological genius to this new future peace solution.
The new Gaza will not be handed over to the Palestinian Authority and its current corrupt leadership, a leadership that squandered the fortune thrown at them by myopic governments and organizations yet did little to improve the lot of their people. Sixty years later their people still live in refugee camps or poverty. Where did all that money go?
If these people govern the lives of Gazans and instill in them the ongoing resentment against Jews and Israel a brighter positive future will dissolved into the old resentful radicalism.
Gaza cannot be allowed to become a territory built on a hatred of Jews and a dangerous and lethal fantasy of a Palestine from the River to the Sea.
This is not acceptable by Israel. Giving peace a chance cannot, must not, be put on the shoulders of those who failed us in the past.
My plan for a better future in Gaza has to be supervised by a man that would be accepted by all the leading partners including Israel. At this time the Palestinian Authority is not, must not be, one of those leading partners.
That man is Mohammad Dahlan.
Dahlan received a BA in Business Administration from the Islamic University of Gaza.
A young Dahlan was arrested eleven times by Israel for his involvements as the Gaza leader of the Fatah youth movement.
After the signing of the Oslo Accords, Dahlan was made head of the Preventive Security Forces in Gaza. He built up a force of 20,000 men and became one of the most powerful Palestinian leaders, dealing regularly with the CIA and Israeli intelligence officials.
Dahlan angered Arafat in November 2001 by expressing dissatisfaction over the lack of a coherent policy. He was criticized by human rights groups for his methods during crackdowns on Islamic militants.
Divorcing himself from the anti-Israel terrorism of Arafat, he attempted to gather support for an electoral challenge to Arafat, but stopped out of loyalty to Palestinians after the Bush administration demanded a change in PA leadership in July of the same year.
Before his resignation from the PA in June 2002, Dahlan was a frequent member on negotiating teams for security issues including at the Camp David Summit in 2000.
In 2006, Dahlan was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in the Palestinian legislative election as a representative for Khan Yunis in Gaza.
Dahlan took an increasingly tough stance against Hamas, calling their 2006 election victory a disaster and threatening to “haunt them from now till the end of their term.”
On December 14, 2006, gunmen attempted to assassinate Palestinian Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas accused Dahlan of orchestrating the attack.
On January 7, 2007, Dahlan held the biggest-ever rally of Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip, where he denounced Hamas as “a bunch of murderers and thieves.”
In response Hamas labeled Dahlan a “putschist” and accused him of bringing Palestinians to the brink of civil war.
In March 2007, despite objections from Hamas, Dahlan was appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to lead the newly re-established Palestinian National Security Council, overseeing all security forces in the Palestinian territories.
In the April 2008 edition of Vanity Fair, it was revealed that after the 2006 elections Dahlan had been central in a U.S. plot to remove the democratically elected Hamas-led government from power.
According to the report, America provided money and arms to Dahlan, trained his men and ordered him to carry out a military coup against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. However, the elected Hamas government forestalled the move and carried out their armed countercoup in Gaza which they have controlled ever since.
In July 2007, Dahlan resigned from his post as national security adviser. Later that year, the Bush Administration exerted heavy pressure on Abbas to appoint Dahlan as his deputy.
In June 2011 Dahlan was expelled from Fatah because of repeated claims by Abbas that he had murdered Arafat. Dahlan moved to the United Arab Emirates, where he made his fortune.
It is reported that Dahlan played a crucial role in crafting the Israel-UAE peace agreement.
All this points to Mohammad Dahlan being the perfect candidate to be the Senior Executive to head the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United States, peace project anchored in reshaping Gaza, in their united image, of what a constructive peace will look like in the Middle East.
In the future, a peaceful and prosperous Gaza can decide on its own, whether it wants to remain independent, or join a confederation with either the PA, Israel, or both.
A three-state solution is a far better vision than a half century failed two-state non solution.
International Public Diplomacy Director,
Israel Institute for Strategic Studies.