The New York Times Israel correspondent, Jodi Rudoren, is dreaming along with Hamas of a seaport in Gaza.
One can imagine that Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen, and a few others from that otherwise distinguished newspaper are nodding in agreement. The editors gave the article considerable space with a large picture.
Not too many Israelis, nor anyone notable in the Egyptian regime are on the same page.
No doubt some Europeans, and maybe a few in the Obama White House and State Department are siding with Ms Rudoren.
The article shouldn''t get too many votes among journalists who value balanced reporting.
One paragraph out of 21, well down in the text, notes that a senior Israeli official has some reservations about the prospect of a port for Gaza. Virtually every other paragraph sings the praise of a port, tells how previous efforts did not come to pass, and links the port to the prospects of Gaza''s future.
The opening and closing set the theme, yet bear no resemblance to the prospects of a port emerging from the present talks in Cairo or whatever comes next.
"SHEIK EJLEEN, Gaza Strip — An unmarked dirt lot about the size of a football field, on a cliff above the crashing waves of the Mediterranean, could be a crucial element in ending the monthlong battle between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip."
. . .
“People here, when I used to tell them I was working for a port, they would say, ‘There is no port,’ ” Mr. Obaid said. “Now people are saying, ‘There will be a port, this is your time.’ ”
One can find a more balanced report in the Washington Post
The official Israeli position is that Gazans should forget about cargo freighters and deepwater harbors. . . .The fear is that every ship comes loaded with weapons for Hamas,
There are Israelis with military credentials who see a sea port as a useful carrot to offer Hamas, but it would come along with severe international and Israeli controls. The Post quotes Retired Major General Giora Eiland, a former National Security Advisor and frequent media commentator.
Israel could require that all ships first dock in Italy, Greece or Cyprus, where the cargo could be inspected and manifests checked. Then the freighters could be escorted into Israeli waters.
Closer to the position of Israel''s government is a passage from Israel''s Hebrew edition of Forbes
Israel''s position on an airport for Gaza is no different.
"The establishment of a port would be a severe threat to Israel''s security. It would quickly become an Iranian port, which would facilitate the smuggling of merchandise and munitions to an unprecedented extent. The primary reason for Israel to control the full perimeter of Palestinian territory is to assure that there in no entry of munitions or terrorists."
The Washington Post provides a capsule history.
One should never say never. For the time being, however, the idea of an airport or seaport for Gaza will most likely be left to the dreams of Gazans and the New York Times. Palestinians say that they are serious in demanding air- and sea ports. Egyptians chairing the discussions say there is no point in talking about them.
The opening of Arafat International in 1998 was a signal achievement for the nascent Palestinian state and was attended by Arafat, who stood beside President Bill Clinton and wept. For two years, the airport near the Egyptian border — its code GZA — was the hub for Palestinian Airlines and its fleet of three planes, which ferried passengers from Gaza to Amman, Damascus, Abu Dhabi and beyond.
The Israelis destroyed the control tower and radar station in 2001 after the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, began. Later, the Israeli military severed the runway and again bombed the airfield facilities in 2009, 2012 and 10 days ago . . .
Today, the arrivals and departures terminal at Arafat International, designed by Moroccan architects to resemble the facility at Casablanca, is barely standing. The facility has been bombed, shelled, riddled with bullets and finally stripped bare by scavengers. Even the asphalt for the tarmac has been peeled away, put to use paving roads elsewhere in the seaside enclave.
The best guesses about the current negotiations is that the ports will not gain any significant mention in whatever is agreed, if anything is agreed.
The cease fire was extended Wednesday at midnight for another five days after a few Gazan missiles were fired before the previous cease fire expired, the IDF responded, then Hamas'' asserted that Israel broke the cease fire. It may be too early to count on five days of quiet, or anything else.
Its hard to explain how a journalist can spend several years covering Israeli politics and overlook the profound lack of trust in much of the population for Hamas or any of its allies.
Israeli confidence in the Palestinians of the West Bank is not much greater. Justice Minister Tsipi Livni and former President Shimon Peres continue to hope for an arrangement with Mahmoud Abbas. For about a decade now, Israel has managed a problematic accommodation with the West Bank. The government may accept a deal that gives Abbas and his security personnel a role around the edges of Gaza, as a buffer to help control what goes in and out. Their success will depend on their capacity to avoid being bribed, intimidated, or killed by Hamas or the Jihadists.
We can expect to read many more editions of the New York Times before a Gaza port is ready for ships or planes.
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