"Men take great decisions only when crisis stares them in the face."
The shooting of Palestinian protesters by the Israeli military on 14 May 2018 on the frontier between the Gaza Strip and Israel has increased persistent tensions to a crisis level. The veto by the United States of a resolution within the United Nations Security Council to create an independent investigation of the situation prevents a clearer presentation of the situation.
The protests had a double theme: a short-term and a longer-term focus. The short term focus was on the need for an immediate improvement of social and economic life by lifting the blockage of goods imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt. The long-lasting embargo has crippled, and in some cases destroyed, the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in the Gaza Strip. The economic and social situation in Gaza distorts the lives of many with high unemployment, poor health facilities, and a lack of basic supplies.
The longer-range issue is the right of return which gave the protest its name:
The Great Return March. The issue concerns the claim of Palestinians to land and homes that they left at the time of the creation of the State of Israel due to the armed conflict which followed quickly after the proclamation of the State of Israel. The possibilities of financial compensation, of the return of a number of Palestinians, of financial compensation to Jews who left Arab countries at the same time are all issues that will be raised when there are serious negotiations between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. Negotiations on a broad range of issues and the creation of new, more just government structures are certainly needed. However, the strength of tensions and conflicts in the wider Middle East make it difficult to see when such over-all negotiations might start. Therefore, it may be useful to look at partial ways forward, perhaps starting with Gaza where current tensions are great
The Association of World Citizens believes that there must be a sharp break in this pattern of violence by creating institutions of security, development, and cooperation. The Association believes that longer-lasting measures must be undertaken that will allow new patterns of understanding and cooperation to be established.
In an earlier UN discussion of Gaza tensions, the Association of World Citizens had proposed in a written statement to the Human Rights Council “Human Rights in Gaza: Need for a Special Focus and Specific Policy Recommendations” (A/HCR/S-12/NGO-1, 14 October 2009) that a Gaza Development Authority be created, a trans-national economic effort that would bring together the skills, knowledge and finance from Gaza, Israel, the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, and Egypt to create conditions which would facilitate the entry of other partners.
Our proposal is obviously inspired by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) of the US “New Deal”. The TVA was a path-making measure to overcome the deep economic depression of the 1930s in the USA and the difficulties of cooperative action across state frontiers in the federal structure of the USA. In May 1933 in a message to Congress President Roosevelt suggested that an Authority should be a " corporation clothed with the power of Government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise. It should be charged with the broadest duty of planning for the proper use, conservation and development of the natural resources of the Tennessee River drainage basin and its adjoining territory for the general social and economic welfare of the Nation... If we are successful here, we can march on, step by step in the development of other great natural territorial units." Some quickly saw the international use of the TVA. A study by the economist Herman Finer in a 1944 International Labour Office study TVA: Lessons for International Applications is an example.
Today, the deep divisions in the Israel-Palestine area require more than economic measures − although economy and raising the standards of living remain important elements. Today, there should be a structure which provides security as well as economic advancement.
Therefore, the Association of World Citizens proposes the creation of an International Temporary Transition Administration for Gaza that would promote security, stabilization, economic development, and institution building. Such a Transitional Administration would be limited in time from the start, perhaps five years.
Unlike the earlier UN Trusteeship agreements which followed upon the League of Nations mandate pattern, the Gaza Transitional Authority would welcome civil society cooperation from outside the area. Such a Transitional Administration cannot be imposed. We ,request a UN Secretariat study on what such a Transitional Administration would require, and encourage discussion among those most directly involved.
The current crisis in the Gaza area requires bold, new approaches. The wider Middle East has many conflicts which could expand. Thus creative advances in the Gaza situation could create a change in attitudes and a willingness to create new forms of cooperative action.
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.