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Aaron Bashani


Aaron Bashani is the pen-name of an American born expert in international public relations with many years' experience working in Arab countries. He is an advisor in corporate relations to the Israel hi-tech sector and founder of a new Jerusalem alliance in the war on terrorism.

He is a believer in the possibility of dialogue and reconciliation with the Arabs and writes in HopeWays, billed as "an alternative national dialogue." Yet -- unusual for most people of his apparent ideological persuasion -- in July, 2005, he argued that, for Israel's security, the Gush Katif area should be annexed.

The Sala Din road, commonly known as the Philadelphi corridor, is a few miles southwest of Gush Katif. It runs parallel to the Gaza-Egyptian border which bisects the Arab town of Rafah. For years now, extensive tunnels between Egypt and Gaza -- terminating in Rafah -- have been used to smuggle arms, illegals and terrorists into the Gaza Strip. In November, 2005, USA Secretary-of-State Rice demanded Israel leave the Rafah crossing. The area is now "monitored" by EU representatives and Egyptians. Israel has no say in the entry of (suspected) terrorists, even though Egypt has consistently failed to stop the massive smuggling of arms and terrorists since the withdrawal of Israeli troops.

As for the crossings from Gaza into Israel, Israel has surrendered the prerogative to shut them down to secure personnel against terror alerts. Jerusalem must first notify the US embassy in Tel Aviv and back up its "request" with specific information, thus parting with its intelligence secrets. It must then wait for permission from Washington to close the entries into Israel.

AP. Chaos as Rafah crossing opens mid-December, 2005. At least 15 terrorists are already back in through Gaza border

This is what Aaron Bashani wrote in July 2005

A Rafiah Plan

Prime Minister Sharon's proposal to withdraw under fire from all of Gaza flies in the face of America's and Israel's common interest to defeat terrorism and spread democracy -- whether, in Gaza or Falluja. And yet Israel is crying for a political and defense strategy to deal with Gaza for the day after.

In lieu of such a strategy, many call despairingly for "Separation Now" as a substitute for "Peace Now". Such a substitute would be, in most Arab eyes at least, seen as retreat under fire and apocalypse for the Jews. Israel's message, as received, would be that the only thing wrong with terror is that there has to be more of it, not less.

While no Jewish settlement in Gaza should be abandoned to terror, there can be a framework built now for that day when final settlement talks begin. At that time Israel can propose measures that would provide territorial contiguity for 90% of Gaza's Palestinian Arabs, a bearable demographic concern for Gaza's Palestinian Jews and minimal bi-lateral transfer for both populations.

This could be done by annexation of the northern Gaza settlements directly contiguous to Israel as well as Gush Katif with its southern Rafiah hinterland through Morag along the current truck road to Hevel Shalom. Israel's international border with Egypt along the current Philadelphi Corridor would thus become truly inviolable in the best long-term security interests of both countries.

Planning now for the eventual incorporation into Israel of the Rafiah district with its 7,000 Jews and 150,000 Arabs would be a far cry from Minister Ehud Olmert's scare tactics and doomsday predictions of 8,500 Jews faced off against 1.2 million Arabs. As extrapolated from the 1997 Palestinian Census, the strategically located Rafiah district is fortunately the least populated district in the Strip.

Such a Rafiah Plan would demonstrate to all that there are permanent costs to Palestinian Arab terror and not rewards. It would also be in keeping with President Bush's acknowledgment that major Jewish settlement areas should be taken into consideration in any final agreement -- what is good for Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim is equally good for Gush Katif.

At the same time, it would allow the rest of the Gaza Strip with its 1.1 million people to have full territorial contiguity and autonomy without any chokepoints. All access into Gush Katif would be from the Western Negev through the southern Rafiah hinterland thus providing for the full "separation" so desired by the majority of Israelis.

A permanent agreement with a democratic Palestinian Arab entity could easily provide it with a secure corridor to Egypt from the rest of Gaza, just as one could be agreed for traffic to the West Bank of the Jordan River and beyond. For the longer term, Israel would thus still promote structures for living together in this one Land since we hold it in common bond with the Arabs of Palestine / Eretz Yisrael.

During such an eventual negotiation on final status, there may be an issue of compensation for land lost by the Palestinian Arabs in Gaza. On the assumption that land would be a key issue at that time rather than other resources, Israel might propose compensation in land along the armistice lines that currently bound the Strip. Another option could be the creation of islands or a land strip off the coast together with resurrection of the famous "Med-Dead" canal project. All such suggestions postulate a total rejection of any forced transfer - neither of Jew nor Arab.

The 150,000 Arabs of Rafiah could be progressively given the fruits of democracy via Israeli citizenship and national civic service -- for them, as for all Israeli Arabs. Increasing segments of the Rafiah population would be a test model for the eventual creation of "New Palestine" Such a project would bolster the determination of future democratic Palestinian Arab governance in the rest of the Land to Choose Life, not Death.

There is still time for Israel to come up with a shelf-plan with which she can live, rather than die -- one based on clear political, security and demographic thinking, not fears; a plan for implementation only after terrorism has been defeated and democracy reigns throughout the Land and for all the inhabitants thereof.

The Jews were expelled, the Arabs moved in. And all the predictions of how disasterous it would be are coming to pass. The Arabs apparently have sufficient time left over from nation building to launch Kassam rockets from northern Gaza. And Gush Katif has become one large training camp for terrorists. As Ezra HaLevi wrote on December 14, 2005 in Arutz-Sheva (

"The Palestinian Authority, instead of housing citizens in the Gaza communities abandoned by Israel, has turned them into training camps for armed factions. N'vei Dekalim is used to launch rockets.

"Many of the 21 communities emptied of their Jewish residents last summer have now been turned into full-fledged military training camps of the ruling Fatah group and of other Islamic terror groups. According to the groups, the communities also act as recruitment centers for the "people's army" being funded by Fatah.

"Two Kassam rockets were fired from Gaza, mid-day Tuesday, toward Israeli towns in the western Negev. A Hamas official told the World Tribune that the rockets were fired from former Jewish towns that have been converted into launching sites for the war against the Jewish State.

"Last month, the PA official in charge of interior affairs, Nassar Yusouf, toured the training camp erected on the remains of the community of N'vei Dekalim -- which was the largest of the Jewish towns in Gush Katif. Yusouf planned to declare the area a closed military zone, but soon realized that armed hordes from his own Fatah faction had set up a military infrastructure in the place."

To date, the Israeli response has been ludicrously insufficient, but if the Arabs continue to increase the damage they do -- and they will -- another Philadelphi Campaign will take place. In October 2005, Bashani wrote of this likely possibility in HopeWays (

The Philadelphi Campaign I --- a post mortum

For over 30 years, Gush Katif was a Protecting Buffer for IDF Troops on the strategic Philadelphi Corridor along the international border with Egypt. Since these troops have left, no one supposedly needs or wants Gush Katif for security. But what if IDF forces have to return to Philadelphi for purely security reasons when the situation there collapses? Public opinion needs to be prepared properly for this scenario when a return to Gush Katif would become important to protect and support our boys (and girls) on the front line. It will also be essential to define the borders of Israel -- the skin of the State, if not its intestines.

Such "Philadelphi Campaign II" must first explode a set of Myths and Other Lies:

1. "Why should our sons die to support a group of religious fanatics?"

Answer: "horse and carriage" -- each supported the other; but not enough secular pioneers answered the defense call of all Israeli governments to settle specifically in Gush Katif, if not elsewhere in the Strip. Why? "YESHA SAVES", as a concept, was too easy and, in the end, a fatal response to those calls.

2. "Gush Katif is not part of the Land of Israel".

Answer -- If not, then what is it a part of, Egypt? No, it's part of Palestina/Eretz-Yisrael -- a still unallocated territory under the terms of the British Mandate.

3. "The Jews in Gush Katif were there because that land was considered holy."

Answer: "Was the sand in the Gush 20 times holier than that in Netsarim? Of course not. Then why did the Gush have 20 times more pioneers than did the rest of the Strip? Only for secular defense reasons.

4. "8,000 Jews lived in the middle of 1.5 million Arabs".

Answer: They Didn't!! 90% of the settlers in Gaza lived in Gush Katif, far from 90% of the Arabs to the Strip's north. Arguing that "All of Israel lives in a sea of millions of Arabs", only goes to confirm the Big Lie. Plus, it doesn't help to say that it isn't 1.5 million Arabs, but "only" 900,000 -- still an indigestible number compared to only 150,000 in Rafiah.

5. "It was right to have put settlers there as long as we were at war with Egypt. Once, however, we achieved peace with Egypt, the Gush no longer served a strategic purpose."

Answer: Are we to understand from this that the int'l Philadelphi border segment also no longer serves a strategic purpose? An int'l border with a sovereign state (Egypt) on one side and a terrorist entity on the other is an absurdity.

6. "It is always good to "disengage" from the Arabs".

Answer: The term, "Disengagement", was a clever trick. The country's acceptance of it rather than the term, "Withdrawal", was a national tragedy and the undoing of Yesha. Are we, in the end, also to "disengage" in Jerusalem?! History will prove that we can no more "disengage" from the Gush Katif area than the Heart can "disengage" from the Liver.

7. "Israel disengaged from the Strip in order to promote chances for peace."

Answer: Gush Katif itself was a strategic asset for negotiation, not a liability. The unilateral policy was also a trick to undermine Palestinian Arab interests -- first we destroyed their livelihood around Erez; now their jobs in the rest of the Strip. But worst of all, we have undercut the chances of the PA surviving the growth of Hamas, and thus any chance for future moderation, democracy and eventual peace. The Moral Left compromised its principles by giving up Bilateralism in order to achieve Withdrawal. But the End never justifies the Means, not even on the Left! The issue of Philadelphi will not go away and can easily lead to war on a larger scale.

8. "It doesn't matter what the Arabs think. We have to do what's good for us."

Answer: If one believes that peace is at least worth pursuing, it is indeed essential what the Arabs think. They should believe that Israel stands firm and does not give in to terror. This was lost by surrendering Philadelphi.



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