Creating a Bantustan in Gaza

From the archive (legacy material)

Akiva Eldar | Ha’aretz | 16 April 2004

South Africa will be very interested in the Israeli disengagement plan published yesterday. The political, military, and economic aspects of the plan for the Gaza Strip and the enclave in the northern West Bank are amazingly similar to the homelands, one of the last inventions of the white minority in South Africa to perpetuate its rule over the black majority. The black and colored people that were concentrated in 10 isolated enclaves had limited autonomy, but their economic well-being depended on the good will of the white government.
The disengagement plan’s states “there will no longer be a basis for the claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory (Article 2.A.3). Thus Israel releases itself from legal-political, moral, and economic responsibility for the Strip and transforms it into an independent entity. However the plan removes only the responsibility, together with its few citizens and its many soldiers. Other than that, control of the Gaza Strip stays in its hands. Israel will continue to control all international passages (Article 2.A.1, and Article 12). The “independent” entity will not be allowed to invite international forces to exercise control unless Israel – which will no longer be responsible for 1.3 million Gazans – agrees. Although Israel has ensured that the Palestinians have no say in the disengagement plan, it demands that Gaza be demilitarized, stating that the presence of weapons “is not in accordance with the existing agreements” (3.A.2).
Basic services (water, electricity, fuel, etc.) will remain the same. The perpetuation of these arrangements contradicts the divestment of responsibility stated by the disengagement plan. But it points out that Israel cannot permit a humanitarian disaster.
The most interesting article in the plan concerns the evacuation of the northern West Bank enclave, to allow “transportation contiguity” (2.B.4) for Palestinians. This term is also taken from the South African precedent. The white South Africans, too, thought this would allow them to continue ruling on the ground, building bridges and tunnels for the natives. Only Israel and Taiwan had ties with the homelands. Foment there deteriorated into a series of rebellions, and a decade ago the homelands became part of united South Africa, governed by a black majority.