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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Problems of Expressive Politics (Gaza Version)

According to this story in the NYT, the Israeli government is a bit conflicted over the wisdom of razing home of Jewish settlers in Gaza come the expected pullout this summer.  Prime Minister Sharon's fear apparently is that having Palestinian or Hamas flags raised over properties belonging to former Jewish residents will signal a form of defeat over Israel and will embolden terrorists.  Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the other hand recognizes that to raze the properties would incur greater risks of attacks on IDF soldiers who had to linger in Gaza, and would cost about $46 million also. 

My initial reaction here was that Mofaz's views to leave the properties intact make good sense, but for another reason also.  Leaving intact those homes, which I suspect are comparatively more commodious than typical Gazan residences, could be viewed as a parting gift, a gesure of good will, whereas to raze the properties seems like a poke in the eye, as if Israel didn't want to confer any benefit on the Gazan populace. 

But then I read further and discovered that some officials of the Palestinian Authority think the homes should be razed because it will be easier to build more apartment buildings on those lands, and that type of development is purportedly better for the local population, which is densely packed in.

Hmm. What's the win-win situation here?  Perhaps there could be a joint effort by Palestinian and Israeli workers and security officials to raze the properties together, with a three month moratorium on flag-raising thereafter.  This would share costs and reduce risks of attacks on the IDF soldiers, and still preserve the infrastructure for devleopment.  Once the homes are razed, rights to develop those parcels of land (for homes or apartment buildings) could be sold via auction, with proceeds to the governments of both parties.  Just thinking out loud here, but I'd be curious to hear other ideas about resolutions to this issue that are both politically feasible and mutually acceptable.  (I have it on good authority that this blog is read in the Israeli PM's home in Rehavia...)

Posted by Administrators on May 11, 2005 at 09:00 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink


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1. Israel should pay the Palestinians to raze the homes (and build new ones). Sounds like the Palestinians would want them razed, but for the fact that new development would be expensive. And the Israelis want them razed, too, but for the fact that razing them themselves puts them at risk. The two sides should be able to negotiate--granted that's a big "should"--and split the difference.

If the Israelis made non-cash payments to the Palestinians (with developers, builders, or raw materials) this suggestion seems to collapse into your joint-development plan, Dan.

2. Another suggestion is that Israel pays the Palestinians not to hang flags. Monitoring would be a problem there.

Posted by: Dan Levine | May 12, 2005 3:59:03 PM

Let the Palestinians vote on whether the houses are razed or not??

Posted by: Paul Gowder | May 11, 2005 9:37:08 PM

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