OBAMA, WEST CAN HELP GAZA BY PASSING UP HAMAS
We can and should expect that the U.S., Europe, Israel and the Arab states will start pouring billions of dollars into construction, investment in business, education, energy and other projects in Gaza. Whoever is in charge of receiving and distributing these funds will hold the keys to power there for the foreseeable future. By giving Hamas the authority over reconstruction, we would be guaranteeing that the funds would go not to Palestinians' actual welfare, but to rebuilding Hamas' arsenal and reasserting its grip over Palestinian life, all with the stated aim of destroying Israel.
At this moment, we should do everything in our power to deepen Hamas' political isolation rather than relieve it. This means working with the PA to create a new political reality on the ground. But the PA can't be the answer, either. It is, simply, far too corrupt.
As a Minister of Industry and Trade in the Israeli government involved in numerous efforts to help promote the Palestinian economy, I saw this corruption first-hand: Public money was routinely funneled into private accounts; joint economic ventures were agreed to only on condition that they directly benefited the family businesses of PA leaders; and joint industrial zones had to be kept entirely under the control of the PA because, as it turned out, all Palestinian employees were being forced to give up a significant part of their salaries as kickbacks to bureaucrats. Hamas was elected, after all, because of popular backlash against the PA's corruption.
The answer is the creation of an international body that makes sure that every project contributes directly to Palestinian life, not politics. If the new Gaza regime isn't built on real standards of transparency and accountability, then all these billions will be an investment not in peace, but in perpetuating the misery of Palestinians - and in the inevitable next round of conflict. (Nathan Sharansky – Bloomberg).