Israel Should Thank Egypt for Opening Gaza Crossing

Even though at first glance it might not look that way, Egypt's decision to open the Rafah crossing point is also good for Israel.

Without a doubt, Egypt's decision to open the Rafah crossing point is good for the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip and for the Hamas government. The question of whether it is good for Egypt remains open. As for Israel, even though at first glance it might not look that way, it is also good.

The fact that Gaza will now be directly connected to the Arab world might make it easier for Israel to untangle itself from a number of knots and a thoughtful and wise response to the new reality could make it easier to deal with the next flotilla.

gaza - AP - May 30 2011

Though Israel evacuated the Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip and withdrew the Israel Defense Forces from the territory, it kept its hold on the supervision of entry and departure there by land, sea and air. After the Hamas takeover of Gaza, this external control became a blockade - which hadn't initially been included in the idea of the disengagement.

The aims of the of the blockade emerged gradually: Legitimate intentions like preventing provision of armaments to Hamas mingled here with more complex aims like a desire to topple the Hamas regime and bring about the release of Gilad Shalit.

None of these aims have been achieved and the blockade's diplomatic repercussions on Israel's international standing have never been publicly discussed. Instead of reaping the diplomatic rewards of the disengagement, Israel has been perceived as oppressing a million and a half civilians.

An absurdity has developed: Even though Israel is no longer controlling the Gaza Strip, it is viewed as responsible for the distress prevailing there. We have also reached an embarrassing situation in which a special unit has formulated a list of allowed foods for the inhabitants of Gaza - as though it were a collective prison under our control.

Thus we fell into the trap set by the organizers of the flotilla from Turkey and came across as violent occupiers, who are not only oppressing a civilian population but also killing people who try to bring them humanitarian aid.

However - and it is hard to admit this - what brought about the near-total cessation of Qassam-fire out of the Gaza Strip was Hamas' fear of another brutal Israeli military operation.

The fact that the Gaza Strip has another border - with Egypt - was forgotten and that country's cooperation with Israel in also closing its own border with the the Gaza Strip did not attract attention. Israel alone was perceived as responsible for their distress.

Now, upon the opening of the Egyptian border, the time has come to complete the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Israel must lift the naval and air blockades and at the same time shut down entirely the land crossing points from Israel to Gaza. The Gaza Strip is enemy territory and from the moment it is open to the wider world through the Rafah crossing, all the remnants of the Israeli occupation as manifested in the naval and air blockade should be eliminated, thereby removing from us the responsibility for provisioning the Gaza Strip.

The border between Israel and Gaza should be like the border between Israel and Lebanon, and just as Israel is not imposing a naval blockade on Lebanon it should not be imposing one on Gaza.

If this policy is implemented, transferring provisions and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip will be done through Egypt - or directly to Gaza. If the organizers of the flotilla to Gaza want to reach Gaza - you are welcome: This is none of our business. There is no Israeli blockade, and so-called human rights activists - whose only aim is to embarrass Israel - aren't bringing weapons there anyway.

Anyone who wants to bring weapons has been doing it for years via the tunnels and we haven't been able to stop that. A total disengagement could also decrease the motivation of some of the flotilla participants.

Gaza is a foreign country. It is hard to digest this, but this is the logic of the disengagement, which must now be completed. Thanks are due to Egypt for having made this possible.