is at Hand for the Palestinians. Itís All Up to Hamas
By Jared Kushner,
Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman
July 19, 2018
At the end of a productive six-day trip to the region
recently, one reality was painfully clear: The nightmare of Hamasís leadership
is continuing and needlessly prolonging the suffering
of the Palestinian people in Gaza.
Despite the billions
of dollars invested for the benefit of Palestinians in Gaza over the
past 70 years, 53 percent
of the people there live below the poverty level , and the unemployment
rate is a crippling 49
percent. The Palestinians of Gaza are stuck in a vicious cycle where corrupt
and hateful leadership has provoked conflicts leading to reduced opportunities
and the poverty and hopelessness that follow.
International donors are conflicted: Should they try to
help the people directly, at the certain risk of enriching terrorists, or
withhold funding to Hamas and watch the people it is supposed to govern suffer?
In the past, investments in badly needed infrastructure have been diverted
for weapons and other malign uses, and even the projects that are built
are often destroyed as a consequence of Hamasís aggression. Until governance
changes or Hamas recognizes
the state of Israel, abides by previous diplomatic agreements and renounces
violence, there is no good option.
Seventy years after the founding of Israel, it would be
wise for Hamas to acknowledge that the existence of Israel is a permanent
reality. Almost all in the Middle East have come to accept this fact, and many
even embrace it. At the expense of the Palestinian people, Hamas is fighting a
morally bankrupt, decades-old war that has long been lost.
Peace will provide opportunity to break this stalemate, and
peace will be achieved only by embracing reality and dismissing a flawed
ideology. Life could significantly improve in short order for the Palestinian
people if Hamas allowed it. There are engaged, interested parties with resources
who are ready to get to work. Yet without real change accompanied by reliable
security, progress is impossible. If Hamas demonstrates clear, peaceful
intentions ó not just by word but, more importantly, by deed ó then all
manner of new opportunities becomes possible.
There is no reason the Palestinians (in both the West Bank
and Gaza) canít enjoy economic success and integrate into a thriving regional
economy ó if they let us help. As President Trump has said so many times, economic
security is national security. By encouraging economic recovery in the
region, we can enhance our efforts to increase stability as well.
Hamas must immediately cease provoking or coordinating
attacks on Israelis and Egyptians,
and on infrastructure projects sponsored by donor nations and organizations.
Rather than looking for opportunities to weaponize everything from kites to
mirrors in order to attack Israel, Hamas should focus its ingenuity on improving
the Gazan economy. Rather than cynically attempting to exploit its barbaric
holding of Israeli soldiers and citizens, Hamas must return them to their
families. Instead of exploiting crossings such as Rafah and Salah al-Din to
smuggle weapons and siphon off tax revenue for illicit purposes and personal
enrichment, Hamas must hand those functions over in their entirety to the Palestinian
Authority so that badly needed materials can get through to the people
of Gaza. The international community stands ready to work with the Palestinian
Authority on this vital effort.
The cycle is clear: Rockets, mortars, terror tunnels, kite
bombs and other weapons of aggression lead only to stricter constraints on the
people of Gaza. Hamasís acts of aggression have only produced misery for the
people of Gaza. The true victims of this terrible situation are the many
Palestinians who are not rioting but whose futures are dimmed by Hamasís
It is evident that the leaders in this region are tired of
being on this hopeless treadmill and are hungry for real change. There is a
clear divide between the bad actors looking to cause destruction, violence and
human misery, and the responsible leaders trying to create a better and
sustainable future for their citizens. The
world is moving forward, but bad choices are causing Palestinians to fall
further and further behind.
The international community also bears some blame. More
countries want to simply talk and condemn than are willing to confront reality,
propose realistic solutions and write meaningful checks. The United States has
invested more money in helping the Palestinian people than has any other country
in the world.
For far too long, Gaza has lurched from crisis to crisis, sustained by emergency appeals and one-time caravans of aid, without dealing with the root cause: Hamas leadership is holding the Palestinians of Gaza captive. This problem must be recognized and resolved or we will witness yet another disastrous cycle.