Gaza: Artificial islands of isolation
The Israeli government on Tuesday floated an idea to build an artificial Island off the Gaza coast that would serve as an air and sea port for the currently-blockaded coastal strip. Though impressive for its creativity, like most plans hatched by Israeli politicians in recent years, it is depressingly shortsighted and dismissive of reality in the outside world.
The plan sidesteps the current situation, in which nothing short of a full political solution resulting in two states will be accepted by the international community – something Israel can no longer afford to ignore.
Undoubtedly inspired by projects such as Japan’s floating airports and Dubai’s (sinking) island-building adventures, the offshore Gaza island idea addresses two serious issues: accessible international crossings for Palestinian economic purposes, and security assurances for Israel.
It does not, however, address an equitable political solution to the 63-year conflict. While it is true that the world is increasingly demanding humanitarian and economic solutions to the isolation of the Gaza Strip, the more basic demand making the rounds in the halls of the United Nations and state houses around the world is for Palestinian statehood.
Israeli Transportation Minister Israel Katz’s $5 billion artificial island project is actually a decent idea when packaged within a comprehensive solution to the conflict. When presented as a stand-alone proposal to ease the blockade, however, it is nothing more than a dangerous regression to the “economic peace” plan proposed by Binyamin Netanyahu before his election to Israel’s premiership.
Just as “economic peace” was rejected by the world two years ago as a half-measure, the idea of “giving” the Gaza Strip an economic lifeline to the outside world is doomed to be seen for what it really is – an inadequate attempt to avoid peacemaking by distracting the world with feel-good improvements to the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
On a more cynical note, there is the simple problem that almost every infrastructure project Israel has ever built for (or allowed to be built for) Gazans, it subsequently bombed or shut down.