Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

So, Gaza Was Occupied

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

So, Gaza Was Occupied

Article excerpt

For 37 years, Israel has consistently rejected Palestinians' and the world view that the status of the areas its military took in 1967 was occupied. When Israel was not using the biblical terms of Judea and Samaria (to refer to the West Bank) they used the terms "administered territories" or "disputed territories." That is until now.

After the evacuation of the illegal Jewish settlers and before the resolution of the international crossings, the Israelis want Palestinians to say the "O" word.

Despite Israel's refusal to allow the reopening of Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza and the Rafah crossing point between Palestinian Gaza and Egypt, the Israelis want Palestinians to publicly proclaim that the occupation of Gaza is over. Well, to be exact, some in the Israeli goveminent (mostly those in the National Security Council) want this statement, while Israeli officials in the Foreign Ministry are simply interested in a Palestinian statement saying that the Palestinian Authority and not Israel will (after the Israeli army leaves most of Gaza) be the party overall responsible for the Strip.

Israeli officials and columnists are surprised that Palestinians are not too enthusiastic about rushing to make a declaration which they have been hoping to make for some time.

The official Palestinian reluctance is understandable as long as the airport and the land crossings (with all that means in security, customs and administrative responsibility) are not fully and permanently in Palestinian hands. Partial control means partial sovereignty and therefore partial end of occupation. Ending occupation is like pregnancy. You can't be half pregnant.

But if these two sovereign crossings are fully placed in Palestinian hands, Israel would have a stronger case in making the claim that the PA needs to declare an end to occupation.

I personally think that the Palestinian leadership should not make any one-sided declaration about the full or partial end of the occupation until the Israelis are willing to make a much simpler declaration. By asking Palestinians to declare an end to occupation, they need to admit themselves that there was an occupation in Gaza and that there still is an occupation in the West Bank.

While such an Israeli acknowledgement would be nothing more than a recognition of the reality that it has been literally occupying Palestinians since 1967, such an admission would have far-reaching consequences. …

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