Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas regime ruling Gaza, rejected the humanitarian assistance delivered on the Rachel Corrie and six other ships diverted to the Israeli port of Ashdod for security clearance. “We are not seeking to fill our (bellies), we are looking to break the Israeli siege on Gaza,” he said.
Haniyeh’s admission is proof-positive there was little need for the supplies on board the ships that sought to land in Gaza. International media reports of full shelves in Gaza belie the prevailing myth that this small territory between Egypt and Israel is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis akin to Biafra or Darfur.
Not that life is comfortable for the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. But misery in the land called Gaza began shortly after the Arab world rejected in 1947 the UN Partition Plan, the two-state solution of the time. Egypt seized the territory during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and its 19-year occupation of Gaza was not pleasant, nor were there any proposals to create a Palestinian state.
Israel immediately sought to negotiate, in exchange for permanent peace, the return of territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. Egypt pointedly did not want Gaza when Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979. Similarly, Jordan abandoned any claims to the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, the territories it had occupied from 1948-1967.
When Israel withdrew its civilians and military from Gaza, and transferred the territory to the Palestinian Authority in 2005, the Palestinians had a golden opportunity to create a foundation for an independent state. It was a chance to realize the vision of the 1993 Gaza – Jericho First agreement Israel had signed with the PLO, so quickly doomed as the Palestinians resorted to devastating suicide bombing campaigns in Israeli cities.
Tragically for the Palestinians, the aftermath of Israel’s total withdrawal from Gaza has not fared much better, as their own leaders again squandered the opportunity. After the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, the Quartet -- the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations -- asked Hamas to recognize Israel, accept all existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements, and renounce terrorism, so the group could join PA President Mahmoud Abbas in peace talks with Israel.