Reading Time: 9 minutes


Sharm el-Sheikh summit was held under the title “the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip”. The conferees departed emphasizing the political terms that require “commitment” from Hamas movement.

In light of Hamas’ upholding its right to resist occupation, not recognizing “Israel”, and not allowing the others to overlook Ismail Haniyyeh’s government, the donors ratified the plan submitted by the Salam Fayyad’s Government, and approved its mechanisms. This means that the reconstruction of Gaza is mortgaged to the developments in the process of pressure imposed by the conference on the one hand, and the steadfastness shown by the resistance and the people of Gaza on the other hand.

Donors have tried to put Hamas in a situation where it has to choose one of three losses: to lose its political position that justifies its existence, to lose its position in authority with the possibility of being marginalized and uprooted, or the continuation of the siege, accompanied by “wounds gangrene” caused by the destruction.

However, Hamas may turn the table, resuming operations and firing rockets, which would drive the Israeli side either to lift the siege and allow reconstruction, or to launch a new war with no guaranteed outcome. The way-out may be the formation of a Palestinian government that does not conflict with the fundamentals of Hamas, and meanwhile accepted by the international community. This would allow an opportunity for reconstruction.


The Reconstruction Mechanism … Whoever Pays, Decides
Politics, Not Reconstruction, is the Objective of the Conference
Hamas Rejects Politicization, and Requires Forth its Own Mechanisms
Hamas in the face of “over-fatigue” and “Let the wounds gangrene” Maneuvers
Hamas and the Donors… The Dilemma of the Reconstruction, and the Dilemma of Siege
Relief Reconstruction
Reshuffling the Cards




After a month and a half of ending the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip, a conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip was held in Sharm el-Sheikh Resort, in March 2, 2009. About 70 countries and 16 regional and international organizations have participated in the conference. The conference was co-sponsored by the United Nations, France, the European Union, the Arab League, Saudi Arabia and Italy.

The conference referred to as “the conference on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip”, is more accurately entitled “Conference in support of the Palestinian economy for the reconstruction of the Gaza

[Strip]”. In the sense referred to by the more accurate latter title, the conference has two tasks: the first is to support the Palestinian economy as a whole, and the second is the reconstruction of Gaza Strip.

This was translated into a plan that costs 2.8 billion $USD in bids, broken down as follows: (a) 1450 million, or 52.2% of the total amount “to finance the deficit in current expenditure of the Palestinian Authority’s budget for 2009.” (B) 1326 million, or 47.8% of the total amount is allocated to an early recovery program, and the reconstruction the devastation caused by the recent aggression on Gaza; the program is to be carried out over the years 2009-2010.

The Palestinian government headed by Salam Fayyad prepared a plan entitled the “The Palestinian National for early recovery and Reconstruction Plan for Gaza”, in partnership with UN agencies, the European Community, the World Bank and other partners.

This plan was the only paper considered on the table of conferees, perhaps because it took into account the attitudes of all the above- mentioned international parties. Thus, it is not only a work of Fayyad’s government but rather a manifestation of all these parties’ considerations.

The Reconstruction Mechanism … Whoever Pays, Decides
Here is a quick look at the major donors, namely:
1) Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: One billion US$.
2) United States: 900 million US$.
3) European Commission: 554 million US$.
4) Japan: 300 million US$.
5) Qatar: 250 million US$.
6) Algeria: 200 million US$.
7) Kuwait: 200 million US$, over the next five years.
8) United Arab Emirates: 174 million US$.
9) Italy: 100 million US$.
10) Turkey: 50 million US$.
Summing up, ten parties gave 3,728 million, or 83% of the total amount granted.

This scene indicates one political orientation of preferring to deal with the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. This orientation was demonstrated in the position of Javier Solana, European Union (EU) High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, when he said that funds for Gaza would be transferred through the Palestinian Authority, adding that there was no need to search for another mechanism for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, other than the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, this position was confirmed by Hillary Clinton, the U.S. Secretary of State, when she pointed out that Washington has “worked with the Palestinian Authority to install safeguards that will ensure our funding is only used where and for whom it is intended and does not end up in the wrong hands,”

In line with these positions, Cairo’s position agreed with what was declared by the European Union and the United States. The Spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hossam Zaki, said that the funds will be pumped through the Palestinian Authority, or in coordination with it, in the context of achieving the goals set by the Authority in agreement with the donors.

Thus, the parties participating in the conference have settled matters in favor of the mechanisms included in the Fayyad Government’s Plan that was presented to the conference.

In addition to and in line with the above mentioned, a five-party-framework was adopted to follow-up the Sharm el-Sheikh conference. This framework included the follow-up committee of the Paris Conference, i.e.: France, Norway, the Quartet Committee, the European Commission, with the addition of Egypt.


Politics, Not Reconstruction, is the Objective of the Conference


Politics formed the general goal that was overshadowed in Sharm el-Sheikh summit. The framework of this goal was indicated by the political issues expressed in the Statements of the participating delegations. In the opening speech, the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stressed: the priority of the Palestinian–Israeli truce, the inter-Palestinian reconciliation, and “the formation of a national unity government to oversee the reconstruction in coordination with the Palestinian Authority.”

The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, said that opening up of Gaza’s border crossings is a priority, but then Sarkozy got back to stressing that there is no solution but “a political solution with Israel”, thus hinting that opening up the crossings should be done through negotiations and settlement. The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed a similar discourse.

In line with the theses of speakers, the final statement of the conference has shown the real attitude of the donors. It stated that “the Palestinian national plan for early relief and reconstruction” will be clearly linked to the priorities that are presented in “The Palestinian National Plan for Early Recovery and Reconstruction of Gaza”, which was launched at the Paris donors’ conference held in December 2007.

Hamas Rejects Politicization, and Requires Forth its Own Mechanisms
Hamas’ attitudes were opposed with the overall developments of Sharm el-Sheikh conference for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. This was clear on the following issues:
1) Hamas considered that the donors’ adoption of the mechanisms of the Palestinian Authority and Fayyad government management to delivering aid is an attempt to extend the authority of Abbas over the Strip, in a way that overlooks the Hamas and the government headed by Ismail Haniyyeh. Therefore, the group rejected this approach. On January 21, 2009, Usama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, said that if some people had failed to return to Gaza on an Israeli tank, they will never return on a cement mixer or tons of iron of reconstruction”.

2) The movement questioned the conferees’ seriousness in delivering aid to its eligible target group. Mohammad Nazzal, a member of the political bureau of Hamas, described the conference as a “farce” and said that the standard of success is not measured by the participation of 87 countries, but rather by how to deliver aid to Gaza. He drew attention to the important role played by the government headed by Haniyyeh, saying that no one can make any process of reconstruction, without agreement from the Palestinian government in Gaza.”

3) In statements by many of its leaders, Hamas rejected the attempts to politicize the reconstruction process as a way to bypassing or excluded Hamas government. They stressed the priority of the humanitarian and ethical dimensions of the reconstruction process.

Hamas in the face of “over-fatigue” and “Let the wounds gangrene” Maneuvers
From the above mentioned, it is evident that any of the various parties could hamper the reconstruction of Gaza Strip. There will not be reconstruction if the funds promised by the donors at the Sharm el-Sheikh were not paid. Similarly, there will not be reconstruction if Hamas movement, as the authority in the Gaza Strip, did not allow it. Moreover, there will not be reconstruction if “Israel” did not allow. As such, each of the three parties have the right to veto and disrupt the reconstruction process, which requires the approval of these three parties.

The Palestinian Authority has not been ignored in this process, but the PA does not have any cards in this phase; its role in the reconstruction is derived from the donor countries, which agreed that the reconstruction will be executed through the mechanisms of the PA and its agencies, in cooperation with many mechanisms of the donor countries.

This apparent negative equation of each party’s capacity to prevent reconstruction conceals a very important variation on determining who will bear the pressuring consequences and the blame or regret on delay of the reconstruction process in the Gaza Strip. The crucial question that arises in this regard is: What would harm “Israel” or the donor countries if the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip was delayed? The case with Hamas is very different, as it is entirely responsible practically and morally for the Gaza Strip, where many people, on pins and needles, are waiting for the reconstruction. In this regard, there are in the other party those who wish Hamas to disrupt the reconstruction as long as possible; they would not mind if it was cancelled altogether, if possible, as this is the only way to create the social conditions suitable for generating protest against the Hamas’ positions, and at a later stage, to create protest against its presence in authority.

In this context, there is an “over-fatigue maneuver”, i.e. exposing a party to excess pressure and wasting their energy, which weakens their ability to resist. This maneuver extends to include whatever leads to weakening of the party confronted. Perhaps the unethical “let the wounds gangrened” maneuver is very much worse, as it calls for letting the society’s wounds to gangrene instead of healing them, with the attendant consequences. It is not probable that the strategists on the other side did lose sight of these two maneuvers; knowing that applying these two maneuvers, as well as other strategies of pressure, is only aimed at weakening the will of the other party.

Hamas and the Donors… The Dilemma of the Reconstruction, and the Dilemma of Siege
The United States insisted on Hamas’ “commitment” to the conventions signed by the PLO as a condition to deal with any national unity government. Ahmed Qurei, the head of Fatah delegation to Cairo, has talked about an unequivocal recognition of “Israel” crystal clear!!

After suspending the Cairo meeting between Hamas and Fatah, Azzam al-Ahmad spoke of three options for Hamas Movement:
1) Comply with the terms that are acceptable to the Americans and the rest of the international quartet, because that is the only guaranteed way to lift the siege.
2) Form a government without complying with the terms; this would lead to the continuation and expansion of the siege to include the West Bank.
3) Not to participate in the government and support a government where ministers are independent figures.

Thus, the Hamas movement has different options, all leading to its loss. The first option is to give up its political attitude that justified its existence and distinguished political stance. The second is not to give up which will lead to the continuation of the blockade and prevent the reconstruction. The third is to waive its position in authority for a government of independents, who will not necessarily deemed affiliated to it, but they must, necessarily, be accepted on the American and European level. As such, Hamas’s opponents are trying to draw it into one of three possible heavy losses: loss of its political position, loss of its position in authority, or the continuation of the blockade and delayed reconstruction, therefore, the wound would gangrene.

Relief Reconstruction
Yusuf Mansi, the Minister of Housing and Public Works of the Palestinian government in the Gaza Strip, prepared a reconstruction plan that costs 2 billion and 215 million US$. The implementation is divided into three phases: relief, shelter, and reconstruction. The plan acknowledges that the reconstruction can only be done after opening up the crossings and breaking the siege. The cost items were distributed to four main headings, namely: housing, agriculture and industry, infrastructure, and government installations.

The simple analytical reading of the cost items shows that the displaced families could be housed, and the owners of the houses affected partially could be assisted. While reports indicate that types of materials needed for rebuilding the damaged facilities are entering, either through the tunnels, or the crossing gates, which are opened for limited periods now and then, for humanitarian and relief purposes. This means that Haniyyeh’s government has limited capacity to find partial solutions that hardly reach the required minimum, unless the blockade ends. This indicates that the situation in the Gaza Strip is part of the “over-fatigue” maneuver, but would move into the phase of “let the wounds gangrened” if not corrected.

Reshuffling the Cards
Hamas movement, Haniyyeh’s government and supporters of the resistance, have demonstrated their enormous capacity to withstand and cope with the exceptional harsh circumstances, including the two-years-siege, and the Israeli attacks and incursions. The recent battle of Gaza has actually increased the popularity of the resistance and rallied the public around them. It also has given a strong message, to opponents and enemies, that Hamas and the resistance factions have won the “breaking of wills” battle and that all means of pressure have not succeed to impose conditions upon.

All these facts could open the door to the possibility of reshuffling cards. This leads us to ask three big questions:
1) In order not to sink leaving the “wounds gangrene”, would Hamas like to, or even can, turn the tables once again and resume launching missiles, bringing everyone back to square zero and forcing Israel to lift the siege?

2) Would the Israeli side like to, or can it, launch a new war to impose their conditions on Hamas, in the hope that they would surrender and accept the Israeli dictations?

3) Is there any emerging inter-Palestinian agreement that would reduce the degree of tension in the region leading to a Palestinian and international acceptable level of breaking the siege and the opening up of the crossings, in order to achieve the reconstruction of Gaza, at a certain acceptable pace?

Knowing that if the crossings are not to be opened, and the relief did not begin, the whole region may be on the verge of a new explosion, especially that all indicators show that Hamas has no intention at all of “commitment” to the American-Israeli conditions, or succumbing to their will.