Sunday, August 28, 2005

Plans for Gaza

Imshin directs attention to the New York Times report on Palestinian plans for the Gaza Strip:
"Where the Israeli settlement of Netzarim once drew rage and mortar fire, Palestinian planners envision a cultural center and museum. In place of the settlement of Morag they see an agricultural research facility.

"Looking ahead 10 years after the Israeli departure from the Gaza Strip, they picture this isolated, conflict-blown strip of sand transformed into a tidy place linked internally by light rail and a coastal parkway and connected to the world by an airport and seaport."

As the article notes, however, planning is a lot easier than implementing. Nothing serious can develop as long as the conflict destroys infrastructure while scaring off investors. Furthermore, all this development is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, and a lot could get consumed by corruption. Oddly, this is where a strong Hamas in Gaza could actually be a blessing in disguise, as they can and will hold the PA's feet to the fire on the corruption issue.

Incidentally, late in the article some experts questioned whether Gaza needed a port given its proximity to those in Egypt and Israel. I don't know all the economic arrangements, but I suspect if the Palestinians ever won a fully independent state they wouldn't want to deal with customs issues. Second, I can see situations in which land borders would be sealed, but the port wouldn't. The only other thing you could really develop there is tourism, and we're still a long time from when the Gaza Strip has the same lure as Hurghada or Sharm al-Shaykh.

UPDATE: Worth linking to here is Lisa's photo account of the Netzarim evacuation.


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