By Daniella Peled
January 19, 2009
You’ve got to feel sorry for those poor Europeans. They funnel vast sums of money into building the infrastructure of Gaza, only to have it destroyed by the Israelis.
“We don’t want to go on to reconstruct Gaza every I-don't-know-how-many-years,” said EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner this week. “This is not what we want. What we would like to see is a clear sustainable peace."”
Indeed. But as much as the EU wants to have a significant role in Middle East peacemaking, little has changed since the days of Oslo. Then, too, the Europeans were called upon to stump up the cash without having much say in the decision-making process. Their involvement in the Quartet was supposed to be a sop to their desire to be players rather than just payers.
So there was a nice photo-op in Sharm el-Sheikh this week for EU bigwigs, including our very own Gordon Brown, who pledged to help stop Hamas re-arming.
The EU’s real involvement is going to come later, and have more to do with the nearly $1.5bn of damage caused by Operation Cast Lead.
It is not clear yet just what is Israel going to allow in, considering that imports of concrete and metals were severely restricted - even before the latest conflict - in case they were used for rockets and bunkers.
The Europeans and the rest of the international community then face a further problem – just how to reconstruct Gaza when no-one is talking to the group which is governing it?