J Street is extremely concerned by the decision of Palestinian President Abbas with the agreement of the Israeli government to reduce the supply of electricity to the Gaza Strip. The cuts will exacerbate the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where many people are already without any electric power for 20 hours a day.
President Abbas’ decision to no longer pay for electricity supplied to Gaza appears to be part of a broader regional attempt to greatly increase pressure on Hamas. Of course, Hamas is a terrorist organization that continues to plan and carry out acts of violence against Israel, while ruling brutally over Gaza’s own citizens. Their rule has been disastrous for Gazans.
At the same time, many Israeli security experts, including voices in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet, fear that worsening the humanitarian and economic situation in Gaza could help trigger a new outbreak of violence that would cost Israeli lives and further devastate the people of Gaza. President Abbas’ actions and their facilitation by Israel are extremely dangerous.
Over the last decade, round after round of conflict between Israel and Hamas has done nothing to improve the lives of the people of Gaza, or to guarantee the long-term security of Israelis from Hamas’ rocket fire and other acts of terror. Tightening the screws and increasing the pressure will not lead to a better future for anyone. What is needed is a full-scale effort by the Palestinian Authority, Israel and the international community to improve the situation for the people Gaza and to pursue a political solution that can bring an end to the deteriorating status quo and the cycle of conflict.
Many leaders and experts have put forward proposals that could lead down a better path. Israel’s intelligence minister has proposed the construction of a seaport that would ease Israel’s blockade, increase the flow of vital goods and supplies into Gaza and house much-needed new electricity and water-supply infrastructure – just one of many potential steps that could be taken.
We urge the Trump administration to look seriously at these ideas, and to work with Israelis, Palestinians and regional allies like Egypt to take proactive steps before it is once again too late. If the administration is serious about advancing Israel’s securing and achieving a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it cannot afford to neglect the growing crisis in Gaza.