FOR all the hope kindled early last year for the Middle East
peace process, the final months of 1994 brought some tragic
episodes of violence: In November, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian
Authority police killed at least 13 and wounded some 200 of their
own compatriots in Gaza, protesting the peace accord with Israel.
In October, a Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) suicide bomber
killed 22 and wounded 48 on a bus in Tel Aviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin has told a sympathetic
United States Secretary of State Warren Christopher, "Arafat must
choose between making peace with Israel and making peace with
Hamas." Hamas has responded that if Mr. Arafat fought them, Gaza
Arafat said he would not fight Hamas but would nonetheless
prevent violence. He can fight Hamas with jobs, not guns. For peace
to last it should generate abundant jobs for Palestinians and be
good for both Arab and Israeli business.
A credible promise of permanent peace and prosperity in an at
least relatively booming Gaza could isolate the Islamic killers,
whose terrorism would threaten those Palestinian jobs. Mainstream
Hamas and Islamic Holy War, offering only endless struggle, would
A permanent international Middle East Free Trade Area (MEFTA) in
the Israeli-controlled Gush Katif (Katif Bloc) of Israeli
settlements in southwest Gaza could provide the long-term political
and economic stability for the private investment needed for
permanent full employment of the Gaza Palestinians. Temporary jobs
funded by international donors will not end the widespread poverty
on which Hamas thrives.
MEFTA would be a combined Hong Kong and Riviera under
administration of the Multinational Force and Observers. The
American-led MFO monitors the successful Egyptian-Israeli peace in
the Sinai. MEFTA would have companies of many nationalities,
including Arab and Israeli, doing low-labor-cost, free-trade
business, with miles of hotel-lined beaches, and duty- and tax-free
shopping. The MFO police force would include elite Palestinian,
Israeli, and Egyptian police.
MEFTA would have business communities for tourism,
manufacturing, commerce, agriculture, and research and development,
each with its own executive housing. The best and the most business
sites would be allocated to the Palestinian Authority, Israel,
Egypt, Jordan, and the principal MFO states - US, Britain, Canada,
France, Italy, the Netherlands, Uruguay, and Columbia - plus Russia
and Saudi Arabia. …