The Week (US)

Helping Gaza or helping themselves?


Sultan Barakat

“On the face of it,” it seems generous of Egypt to offer $500 million to rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel’s latest bombing campaign, said Sultan Barakat. But this gift is driven neither by altruism nor by Arab solidarity. When Turkey and Qatar fund such efforts, they always subcontrac­t the work to “provide employment to the many skilled workers in Gaza and stimulate the territory’s beleaguere­d and battered economy.” Cairo, though, wants Egyptian firms to handle the reconstruc­tion, because its true motive is providing jobs for Egyptian workers and “increasing its influence over Palestine.” This is no surprise. Egypt under

the brief tenure of democratic­ally elected President Mohammed Morsi was a friend to Gazans. But after army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi deposed the Islamist Morsi in a bloody 2013 coup, Cairo has been “just another obstacle” to Gaza’s developmen­t. El-Sissi even bombed the border tunnels that Gazans use to smuggle in food and medicine from Egypt. Rather than offering constructi­on workers and materials, foreign nations that genuinely want to help the Palestinia­ns should concentrat­e on pressuring Israel to lift its brutal blockade. Gaza’s reconstruc­tion “can only be truly successful if it is led by the Palestinia­ns themselves.”

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