As The Jewish Standard reported earlier this month, British Parliamentarian had been raising funds around the area for an American convoy to Gaza called Viva Palestina. That trip materialized last week and Israeli authorities permitted the protesters entry to the Gaza Strip. According to a JTA report, Galloway spoke about why they came:
“We are saying to President Obama, the world is looking,” Galloway said to a crowd of Gazans, according to media reports. “The situation in Palestine is intolerable. You have to stop this.”
Think about his words: The situation in Palestine in intolerable. Ignore for a moment that there is no recognized country or territory called Palestine, this statement highlights the major problem in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations: The situation in Gaza is terrible, but the West Bank is thriving. In the article West Bank Boom, writer Khaled Abu Toameh details that while unemployment remains high, new shopping malls and movie theaters are popping up in cities such as Nablus and Jenin, once capitals of terrorism in the territory.
“This is a very special day for Nablus,” said PA-appointed governor Jamal Muhaisen. “Indeed, the economic situation today is much better.”
“The security situation is good, so everyone wants to do business in the West Bank,” said Ali Barham, coordinator of the Nablus Shopping Festival. “Many people are beginning to feel the change.”
The Palestinians attribute this boom to the loosening of Israeli restrictions and checkpoints and the strengthening of Palestinian security. No longer do the armed militias rule the street. The Palestinian Authority’s slogan of “One Authority, One Gun” seems to have become more than just a slogan. One businessman told The New York Times, “For the past eight years, a 10-year-old boy could order a strike and we would all close. Now nobody can threaten us.”
This is a far cry from Gaza, where Hamas keeps a tight grip on the people, squelching any behavior the organization deems un-Islamic. And this is the biggest roadblock to peace in the region. With economic prosperity increasing in the West Bank, the people do not want to see a return to the dismal days of the Intifada. The Palestinian Authority can take credit for this but as long as it controls only the West Bank and still fears another Hamas coup there, Israel has no negotiating partner. Prime Minister Netanyahu just started speaking of a two-state solution. Neither he nor the rest of Israel will agree to a three-state solution. The Palestinians must unite. Abba Eban was famous for, among other things, saying the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The Palestinians of the West Bank have an opportunity in front of them but those in Gaza have had that opportunity taken away by Hamas.
The situation cannot continue like this and eventually, one side will prevail, Fatah or Hamas. We hope that the growing prosperity in the West Bank and the commendable actions of the Iranian protesters are enough to influence the people of Gaza to challenge their Hamas masters and say: Enough.