Almost three months after Israel left the Gaza Strip, optimism has begun to fade among some Palestinian officials and businessmen who hoped the withdrawal would bring rapid benefits to their shattered economy.And why would anyone pass up this no-brainer? The Financial Times dutifully goes through the short list of possible reasons why the world would be ignoring this unique opportunity to invest in the Palestinians:
Even the fanfare with which the Palestinian Authority marked last week's transfer of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt to its control failed to lift the gloom. "A lot of people are fed up with celebrations," said Nasser Jabr, deputy economy minister. "What they want to see is something happening on the ground."
A number of factors have slowed the predicted recovery. It was not until mid-November that Israel and the PA, under last-minute pressure from Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, signed up to a package of measures to ease the movement of people and goods in and out of the territory.Oh yeah, the "lawlessness and concerns about perceived levels of corruption in the PA"--at least they were polite enough not to say 'perceived' lawlessness: and even then that would only be referring to the propensity of Palestinian Arabs have shown this year for killing more Palestinian Arabs than the number of Palestinian terrorists Israel has responded to. Never mind the terrorism.
Elements of the agreement, however, have yet to come into force and some will not be fully in place before the end of nextyear.
Uncertainty over a guaranteed border outlet for exports has been one factor deterring the private investment needed to drive an economic revival. Others are lawlessness and concerns about perceived levels of corruption in the PA.
But one person has not forgotten the terrorism--which leads to this priceless quote:
"Not a single investor has come to us since the Israeli disengagement," said Amr Hamad, Gaza head of the Palestinian Federation of Industries. "Frankly, they may be scared off by Gaza's negative image - the kidnappings and shootings. But we also need to create a better investment climate by reforming the relevant laws."[emphasis added]
Yup, that may have had something to do with it. Though it is not clear what laws have to be "reformed" and what key legislation needs to be passed in order to suddenly stop killing and blowing people up indiscriminantly.
Of course one place to start would be not the law books, but to stop teaching children to hate and kill.
In a Palestinian seventh-grade Arabic language book, a protest poem called "The Martyr" includes the lines: ''And the flow of blood gladdens my soul. ... And who asks for a noble death, here it is.''Palestinian Arabs will no doubt able to rely on bringing in more billions in aid from the West, and may even receive funds from other Moslem and Arab countries--for things other than guns and rockets--and of course they can count on all kinds of protestors around the world who are 'pro-Palestinian' and anti-Israel.
The Palestinians' 11th grade Islamic Culture book has dozens of appeals for Islamic solidarity to confront ''enemies'' such as Israel, its allies and Western culture. ''The Islamic nation needs to spread the spirit of jihad and the love of self-sacrifice [martyrdom] among its sons,'' reads one passage.
But the attention and aid they have received thus far is the kind of attention an exasperated parent showers on a spoiled child given to tantrums and fits of uncontrollable anger, in the unending effort to make it stop, including making the older brother (Israel) give him whatever toys the brat wants just so he will shut up.
But perhaps the Palestinian Arabs will learn that there is no substitute for good will--should they finally grow up and 'behave'.
Crossposted at Israpundit