The Free Gaza Movement and the Freedom Flotilla have succeeded in drawing attention to Israel's siege on Gaza, which has turned the Strip into a giant prison. There is another aspect to the Gaza prison however, highlighted by Amira Hass in her column today, and that is the systematic separation of Gaza from the West Bank, beginning in 1991.
We have come to believe that the Palestinians (like the Gauls) are divided in three parts: refugees, citizens of Israel and residents of the Occupied Territories. In fact however, they are now divided in four. We can no longer relate to Gaza and the West Bank as a single entity, as much as two-state advocates would like us to. Internal Palestinian divisions have certainly played their part, but it is hard not to see an Israeli design behind all of this. Apart from the obvious cui bono parameter, creating such divisions among Palestinians is a long-standing Israeli policy – one that has certainly served Hamas well, over the years.
We have also come to view the settlements as the main obstacle to a two-state solution, and Israeli settlement policies as the clearest sign of Israeli bad faith. The isolation of Gaza from the West Bank however, to the point of making any kind of union between the two virtually impossible (socially, economically, educationally, religiously, politically, emotionally), is no less devastating - or intentional, as Amira Hass claims - in terms of the feasibility of a two-state solution. The process goes well beyond the lack of a physical "safe passage", promised by Israel at the earliest stages of Oslo and repeatedly pulled out of its hat as an “incentive” for Palestinian concessions. The latest Israeli move in this direction would appear to be the new "anti-infiltration law", designed to enforce even stricter segregation between Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.
Beyond the political ramifications of such a policy, the consequences for Palestinian society and families may even dwarf the lack of cement and fuel in Gaza.