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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Times of Israel (and other media) reported on Monday:

The Hamas terror group warned Monday that Israel’s decision to reduce Gaza’s already paltry power supply would have “disastrous and dangerous” results that could lead to an outbreak of violence.

The Israeli cabinet decided Sunday night it would cut the amount of power it supplies to the Gaza Strip at the behest of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is seeking to ramp up pressure on Hamas, his Fatah party’s bitter rival.

The decision would see a reduction of about 45 minutes to the amount of time every day during which Gaza receives electricity, Israeli media reported.

“The decision of the occupation to reduce the electricity to Gaza at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is catastrophic and dangerous. It will accelerate the deterioration and explode the situation in the Strip,” said Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanua.

“Those who will bear the consequences of this decision are the Israeli enemy, who is besieging the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas,” he added.
Haaretz had an analysis:

Like the proverbial frog slowly cooking in a pot with the water temperature rising so gradually it doesn’t sense the danger, so the Gaza Strip is coming to this summer’s boiling point. Without it being either side’s objective, without any interest to be served by escalation, it looks as if Israel and Hamas are getting closer to a confrontation, with the active and exceptional encouragement of the Palestinian Authority.

And this is happening at the start of the Gazan summer, with temperatures already starting to reach intolerable levels. Top Israeli political and security officials held several meetings over the past two weeks to discuss Gaza’s electricity crisis and the likelihood of a military escalation in the area. On Sunday, the inner cabinet also discussed these issues.

Senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, have already announced the Israel cannot step into the PA’s shoes and pay off its debts. The Netanyahu government does not want to be seen as capitulating to Palestinian extortion.

Military officials told cabinet ministers that it’s important to maintain the accommodations that prevent a new military conflict in Gaza. They stressed that further disruption to the electricity supply in the territory could accelerate an escalation. The Israeli government must presumably weigh the fact that the sums at issue, tens of millions of shekels a month, are lower than the economic cost of a single day of combat in Gaza, without even considering the expected casualties.

There will be no "explosion," for a simple reason: Hamas has lost the Arab world. If there was a new war, not only wouldn't the Arabs care about the brave Hamas resistance fighters, they wouldn't care about the poor innocent Gazans either.  Hamas has lost all its leverage.

Including cash.

Hamas is probably being driven into the arms of Iran, which would encourage war. But Hamas has already seen its fortune swing from being respected (when the Muslim Brotherhood controlled Egypt) to being despised. The pendulum can swing quickly in the Middle East, but if Hamas alliance with Iran would shut the door on any possible comeback for the terror group.

The last thing Hamas needs is a war where its own people, who know very well that Israel has nothing to do with the power crisis, will blame the Gaza leadership for making their lives even more miserable.

I still don't think it is a good idea for Israel to go along with this scheme of reducing electricity to Gaza. Israel should unilaterally take the money for electricity out of the taxes it pays the PA and tell Abbas to find another means to screw his own people.

Netanyahu is trying to stay out of this:
“The issue of electricity in Gaza is a dispute between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “Hamas is demanding that the PA pay for the electricity, and the Palestinian Authority is refusing to pay. It is an internal Palestinian dispute.”
“In any case, I want to make it clear that Israel has no interest in an escalation [with Hamas] and any other speculation is wrong. But we have an interest in security, and our policy is clear on the subject of security and it won’t change,” he said.
 But by agreeing to reduce the electricity, Israel is involved whether he likes it or not.

The more Israel stays out, the more that the momentum we've been seeing of Arabs tilting towards Israel will accelerate. The (probably bogus) UAE Red Crescent report blaming Hamas for Israel allegedly attacking their field hospital is is truly incredible. If Israel is seen as helping ordinary Gazans (not Hamas) more than the PA is, for the first time in forever, Israeli goodwill gestures might actually pay off.  The articles in Arab media pointing out that Abbas wants to collectively punish Gazans while the Israeli enemy is trying to help them would be huge. And they would be written, unlike in the past.

Gaza has been the symbol of false Israeli cruelty. The reality is that Gazans have been the victims, above all, of Palestinian infighting. Arabs know the truth and they are just getting to the point of discussing it publicly. Israel should take the high road and force the PA to pay for the electricity this time. The potential upside is huge, and the downside is very little.

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