Saturday, February 2, 2008

Hamas considering economic disengagement from Israel

In interview with London paper, senior advisor to Hamas leader states that organization seeks economic unity with Egypt, which would supply Gaza with fuel, electricity

"Hamas is seriously contemplating severing the Gaza Strip’s economic ties with Israel, said Ahmed Yousef, a senior advisor to Palestinian Prime Minister and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a Saturday interview with the London-based newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat Yousef furthermore stated that Hamas has already generated plans and proposals to unite economically with Egypt instead of Israel. According to Hamas, Egypt can serve as ‘Gaza’s gateway’ to the Arab and Muslim world and as its in-depth strategic partner.

The organization has already generated plans, likely presented to the Egyptian government during a Hamas delegation visit to Cairo last week, whereupon Egypt can supply the Gaza Strip with fuel and electricity, as well as opening the Rafah Crossing for commerce with Gaza.

Several Arab countries have already expressed marked willingness to trade with Gaza and to fund energy export projects should Egypt prove willing,” said Yousef, noting that Hamas wants to bolster Gaza’s economy by ending its nearly absolute economic reliance on Israel.

When asked whether Hamas is also considering abandoning the use of Israeli currency in the Strip, Yousef indicated that this “might be possible in the future. Residents of Gaza can always trade in American Dollars, Jordanian Dinars or Egyptian Pounds at a later point.”

Egyptain reaction unclear, Fatah objects

It is still unclear how Egypt plans to respond to this Hamas proposal, since this economic disengagement is by no means a quick or simple feat, especially as the Palestinian Authority has signed several binding economic accords with Israel.

The Fatah movement’s reaction to this Hamas proposal, however, was far more emphatic, and decidedly negative......"

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