U.S. Leadership Crucial In Gaza Reconstruction

On May 27th, Al Jazeera announced that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had ended his tour of the Middle-East to maintain the ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Palestinian military in Gaza. Blinken further emphasized the importance of working towards “equality” for Palestinians and at the same time, assured Israel that U.S. support would remain steady during the escalation of conflict with Hamas. More than 240 people, including at least 66 children, were killed during the most recent violence in Gaza. For the Biden administration, this introduces the first major diplomatic crisis at hand.

To manage the situation in Gaza, the Biden administration has promised a partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA), along with the United Nations, Egypt, and Gulf countries to conduct aid to Gaza. According to Al Jazeera, Blinken also pointed out how all parties must “use the space created” by the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire to address “a larger set of underlying issues and challenges.” A State Department official had previously stated that the goals of the aid structure included “reintroducing and reintegrating” the PA in Gaza, and the U.S. emphasized close cooperation to assure the militant group Hamas “does not benefit” from the $360m promised for reconstruction and Palestinian development. However, according to Imad Alsoos, a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, if the U.S. manages to achieve its goal, it does not necessarily mean that Hamas will be able to derive political support from the reconstruction and development measures.

Western states have engaged with the PA being the de facto representative organization of the Palestinian people, with the U.S. and EU considering Hamas a “terrorist organization.” Additionally, the United Nations announced how they will be launching a humanitarian appeal for Gaza, which is supposed to promote other states to donate extensively towards Gaza reconstruction. The Guardian also reported how Senator Bernie Sanders suggested a plan to block the sale of a $735m weapons package to Israel, as he further argues for an even-handed approach to managing the conflict. The ceasefire in Gaza is a temporary yet delicate solution, and the issue is now increasing in complexity. International organizations must send all support and efforts to help the people in Palestine. Also, in cooperation with the new PA government, Hamas should ensure acceptance and maintenance of the ceasefire by all Palestinian factions in Gaza and the safety of all agencies residing there. Blinken’s announcement of efforts to seek equal measures of security for Israelis and Palestinians is essential, and hopefully, this can be achieved beyond the ceasefire. 

The PA is dominated by the Fatah party and has received criticism for not managing the recent escalation of violence. Since Hamas started to gain control over the coastal enclave in 2007, the PA has exercised limited authority in Gaza. Moreover, the problem of rebuilding Gaza and accepting aid from outside sources has been of issue for multiple years. In 2014, there was an extensive campaign to try and get countries to donate to Gaza redevelopment, which resulted in a conflict that lasted about a month and a half, and, like this one, caused widespread destruction and devastation in the area. Seven years ago, experts already assumed that a similar conflict would be likely to happen again. According to Nader Hashemi, Director at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, with U.S. foreign policy remaining “closely calibrated with what Israel wants and does not want,” a shift in the current paradigm remains unlikely. He also explains that the conflict remains in a vicious cycle, where Gaza gets destroyed and built up repeatedly. 

Conclusively, the situation between Hamas and the right-wing Israeli government is getting worse. To maintain the ceasefire, Israel must change its policy toward Hamas and recognize how its own stability depends on that of Gaza. The Biden administration has set a positive example by agreeing to work with the new Palestinian government. The U.S. should provide equal measures to Palestine as it is critical that its people feel supported in this crisis. Along with the EU and its regional allies, the U.S. should encourage the PA to return to Gaza, and further prevent Israel from interference. Lastly, the U.S. has a responsibility to unite people, and must therefore effectively work towards ending the provision of weapons into the Gaza conflict.

Olivia Berntsson