By Request: An Egyptian Gaza?

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"By Request: An Egyptian Gaza?"

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Greg Sanders asks:

One thing I’m wondering about Gaza. If at some point in the future, Egypt goes more democratic and the Muslim Brotherhood gains a role in the government, does a substantially better relationship between Palestinians in Gaza and Egypt become possible?

As you’ve shown via links, the West Bank part of a three state solution is totally unworkable. However, the problems with perhaps getting some sort of protectorate status for Gaza seem to largely center around Mubarak (or any likely dictatorial successor).

A “three-state solution” would entail Gaza being incorporated into Egypt, Israel grabbing and annexing the parts of the West Bank it wants, and Jordan absorbing a rump West Bank and this seems to be the successor fantasy to the “Greater Israel” dreams of yore. With regard to the question, obviously this would depend on the state of the overall Israel-Palestine issue.

I can’t speak from a great wealth of personal experience, but I do think it’s a mistake to look at the Middle East as just a big ol’ sea of generic Arabs who can be shunted from one country to another. Egyptians are aware of Egypt’s distinctly Egyptian history and heritage and Palestinians have a feeling of common nationhood. That said, if you assume a future Palestinian state, it’s natural that Gaza will in some ways be more connected with Egypt (which it’s next to) than to the rest of Palestine. But think of Alaska. Notwithstanding the fact that Alaska shares a border with Canada along with a language and broadly speaking a “culture,” Alaskans are still Americans. And, indeed, as we’ve seen from Sarah Palin they’re capable of manifesting an ugly brand of American nationalism that’s totally incompatible with being Canadian.

An interesting related issue that can only be speculated about is to what degree would we see much closer political integration between Arab states if he had more political democracy. There are efforts, of course, to coordinate Arab policy through fora such as the Arab League. But in practice it’s extremely difficult for authoritarian states to cooperate in a deep way. Constituted as democracies, however, it would be much more plausible to imagine the Arab League turning into something more like an Arab version of an EU-style superstate.

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