Proposed port for Gaza is a tactical move by Israel argues Laleh Khalili

Last week, the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman paid a visit to Nicosia in Cyprus in order discuss building a port on the coast that could be used as a base to ship goods and supplies to Gaza. What could be construed  as a positive development for Palestinians in Gaza has been met with scepticism from some political commentators, as well as many within the Palestinian community.

Professor Laleh Khalili is convenor of the MSc Middle East Politics programme at SOAS and a member of the Centre for Palestine Studies. Commenting on developments, she said:

“A port in Gaza has since 1993 been part of the provisions of the (now dead) Oslo Accords, and at every stage, the intransigent Israeli government has prevented the implementation of such a policy. As recently as 2014, Germany, France and Britain were pushing Israel to allow for the establishment of a shipping route between Gaza and Cyprus that would – in the absence of any land routes – allow for the delivery of materials for survival for the Gazans.

“My sense is that reviving the Gaza-Cyprus route is a pre-emptive plan by Israel to forestall the possibility that Gazans would actually control the port or the shipping route and Israel would continue to maintain full control of the venture.

“I doubt that such a port will be anything but a mechanism for importation of goods for sustaining basic life in Gaza, and very strongly doubt it will be used as an export port. Certainly there is no way that Israel would allow Palestinian people to leave via this port, so frankly I don’t see this as anything but yet another modality of control by Israel.”

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