12/15/2013

The weather storm in Israel and the Palestinian Authority – possible political implications

Since last weekend a snow storm unfamiliar to Israel rocked the country and actually paralyzed it. As far as Israel is concerned – the public criticism on the government organs performance is not expected to develop to meaningful political consequences, but as far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned the weather storm may well develop to political storm that may change its political landscape.
The storm only sharpened the already deep infrastructure calamity in Gaza that even before the storm already collapsed. Gaza suffers from acute electricity crisis due to the malfunction of is electricity plant that works on solar, with sewage flood over and worst of all- a looming shortage in drinking waters due to salification of wells and mixing with sewage.
The outdated plant is very expensive and Hamas government does not pay Ramallah for its expenses to operate it.
The storm added scenes of streets flood with waters and inability of the Gazans to warm themselves from the chilling cold.
This might have affected Gaza politics the way Chernobyl catastrophe affected old Soviet Union, but this will not happen. In Gaza whatever the misery of the people might be- no challenge can be seen in the horizon. Fatah is in its poorest position ever and the Tamarrud movement evaporated. After Hamas' muftis permitted the blood of potential challengers to Hamas rule, everybody understands that Hamas will crash any challenge to its rule the Assad model in Syria.
But once Hamas understood that it cannot handle the situation alone – they applied to Ramallah for help. Here we entered the regional political considerations. Egypt is in no mood to help Hamas in anything. So, the help cannot arrive from the Egyptian side. So, the only gate to help Gaza is from the Israeli side. This may have repercussions in the future. As for now, Hamas cannot admit getting direct help from Israel, so they have to admit second best—being assisted by Ramallah, though through Israel.
But Ramallah does not have the resources to aid Gaza, so Qatar allocated 10$ million to buy solar for the defunct electricity plant, but unlike in the past when Qatari aid shipments arrived through Egypt- this time it is scheduled to arrive through Ashdod seaport. The reason- the unsafe delivery through Sinai and the worsening relations between Egypt and Qatar due to Qatari continued support to Moslem Brothers.
So, Israel is now becoming the main gate for Gaza although in this stage Ramallah is kind of linking tool between the two. For Hamas it is very ideological problem as they saw in the Arab and Moslem world their natural depth and not in Israel neither in Ramallah. So, between the two evils- being aided by Ramallah or Israel- Hamas preferred Ramallah.
But Qatari aid did not come without political fee. Qatar is still striving to lead the reconciliation efforts between Fatah and Hamas. Only few weeks ago after visiting Cairo Abu Mazen was very clear that only Egypt is leading the reconciliation and nobody else, but now the need to have Qatari aid in both the West Bank economic development requires Ramallah to accept Qatar leadership in the reconciliation efforts. As a result a reconciliation meeting took place last week in Doha between Azam al-Ahmad from Fatah side and Hamas figures that are not in favor of Egyptian leadership in the region.
When we compare the reaction of Gaza and Hamas diaspora to the aid given by Ramallah via Israel we can see that while the Gaza leadership thanked the "international aid", Khaled Mash'al called Abu Mazen directly from Doha to thank Ramallah for its rescue involvement. This means that while Doha demands Hamas leadership to rely more on Ramallah as much as Egypt is closing on them from Sinai, Gaza leadership is accepting the aid but refuses to pay the political toll.
The situation in Gaza is going to worsen further with regard to drinking waters supply that is going to reach a point of crisis in matter of year. In this moment of truth Gaza might become completely depend on Israel and political gimmicks in which Ramallah is rescuing Gaza cannot work anymore. Here the relations between Gaza and Israel will arrive to a critical moment as no one else can help Gaza – but Israel.
The problem will be that it will be very difficult for Israel to help Gaza while it is smeared as the one responsible for all Gaza problems. See for example this piece of today http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=657098.
Sum up: the storm that rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories sharpened the sinking of Gaza into the depth of catastrophe and returned Qatar to the position of leadership in reconciliation as the party that rescue Gaza on the price of leading reconciliation.
It is all gimmick and games and nothing real will take place. Reconciliation will not happen and Qatar will not become a leader in Palestinian politics. But as the real acute crisis is already looming – the drinking waters availability – and Israel becomes the only solution for Gaza beyond all gimmicks and games.
This is going to be Hamas real choice between ideology of hatred and supplying waters to its citizens.