First of all, let us congratulate the people of Gaza on a victory that demonstrated their perseverance in the face of such atrocious enemy and that made the entire Arab and Muslim world proud.
Second, this victory together with the changes that took place in the region and especially in Egypt renders it necessary to look into the possibility of annexing Gaza to Egypt. In my point of view, this is the ideal way of stopping Israeli aggression against the strip. In addition, Gaza was governed by Egypt from 1948 till 1967, when Israel occupied both Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula.
After the war, Egypt kept demanding the liberation of its occupied territories, by which it meant Sinai and the Gaza Strip. This demand lasted for years until late President Anwar Sadat gave up Gaza in the Camp David treaty and left the Palestinians to negotiate it return.
Sadat made a mistake when he abandoned a territory that had for decades been under Egyptian rule. This mistake was, however, a personal choice on the part of Sadat and was only approved by his aides. The Egyptian people, on the other hand, did not approve of a treaty that would isolate Gaza. After all, Sadat neither consulted the parliament nor cared about his people’s opinion.
The annexation of Gaza to Egypt will not be in violation of peace treaties or the Arab initiative, but will rather be the only outlet for Gazans who will then be under Egypt’s protection. Egypt will also benefit from this arrangement since it will be spared the repercussions of the constant conflict between Gaza and Israel and which has always had a negative impact on its economy and national security and has always placed it in an awkward situation before foreign powers that insist Egypt is responsible for guarding its borders with Gaza.
In addition, neither the United States nor Israel would object to the annexation and the same applies to the United Nations, since this is a domestic matter and the people of Gaza have the right to self-determination. In fact, Israel would like to see this happen to get rid of the threat posed by militias in the strip and to guarantee that no further attacks will be launched from there.
There is also a geographical factor involved. It is almost impossible for Gaza and the West Bank to be united when they are separated by Israeli land in the middle. How then can they form one homeland? Would Israel open its borders for Palestinians to move freely from Gaza to the West Bank and vice versa? Or will a 57-kilometer long tunnel be dug between both, as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack once proposed? Or do we expect the Israeli authorities to give Palestinians land that connects Gaza to the West Bank? It is, therefore, extremely far-fetched to create a unified territory of two lands separated by more than 60 kilometers.
The annexation will also not affect the Palestinian national project in any negative. On the contrary, it will make negotiations easier since after the liberation of Gaza the focus will be on the West Bank and the Golan Heights.
Freedom fighters liberated Gaza and removed Israeli settlements and now they conquered Israel and claimed full control on the strip. It is now high time to concentrate on the West Bank, which the Arab world has for long neglected in favor of Gaza. This is what Israel actually wants: to distract Arabs with Gaza so that it can expand its settlements, annex more West Bank land, and go ahead with the Judaization of Jerusalem.
Finally, Egypt will never be able to have the peace of mind that will enable it to embark on economic reform and launch development projects as long as the Gaza “headache” persists. This headache will only go away if the annexation takes place. In this case, instead of arguments about whether the Rafah crossing should be opened, borders between Egypt and the strip would be removed and Egyptian schools, universities, and hospitals will be open to Gazans who instead of living in an eternal prison would be able to cross freely to the land of freedom and justice, the land of revolution and dignity.
(Saudi columnist Ibrahim Al Majari writes on regional politics and current affairs. This article was first published in the Saudi daily Al-Sharq.)