Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister in waiting Gordon Brown has promised to set out an "economic road map" to build peace in the Middle East. Sound familiar? The current road map (to nowhere) is dead in the water. Brown highlighted the fact that, while average income in Israel was $20,000 (£10,144) a head, in Gaza it was $800 (£405). In other words Israeli incomes are on average 25 times those in Gaza. Yet Gaza is potentially a rich place. It has the potential to have as good a lifestyle as anywhere. It is often said that Gaza is hopelessly overcrowded but in fact it only ranks about sixth in the World in terms of population density. Pockets of affluence like Monaco, Andorra, Hong Kong and Singapore are all more heavily populated. In fact in a list of the world’s countries by GDP Monaco, Singapore and Hong Kong all come ahead of Israel.
Gaza Strip size comparison with other small states
Andorra, a small country in the Pyrenees, has the highest life expectancy (83.5years) in the world. It lies between France and Spain and is on friendly terms with both. How should we describe Andorra? A principality, a state, a nation state, an independent state, a nation, a Parliamentary co-principality, a small nation, a statelet or what?
Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of its GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit Andorra annually.
Suppose the Gaza Strip acquired the same kind of status as Andorra, Monaco or San Marino? Gaza has great potential as a tourist spot with its International airport, beaches, hotels and friendly inhabitants. A well irrigated strip could have considerable agricultural potential – enough to rival the juicy jaffa oranges and of course there is the recently discovered natural gas. Suppose Gaza became famous for its annual film festival – rivalling Cannes? Suppose it became reknowned for its Casino like Monte Carlo?
Country Area km2 GDP per capita ($) Population
Hong Kong 1,104 km2 27,466 6,864,346
Singapore 704 km2 29,917 4,483,900
Andorra 487 km2 38,800 71,822
Gaza Strip 360 km2 800 1,376,289
San Marino 60.6 km2 28,117 34,600
Monaco 2.0 km2 67,000 35,657
This is not to suggest that an independent Gaza is an ideal solution for Palestine but if the Gaza Strip was allowed to have open borders with Egypt, with the sea and with the air then it would have a large measure of sovereignty. The Western powers and Israel would throw up their hands in horror at the prospect of a self-governing, self-reliant, Gaza. It would be the classical case of a good example which the imperial powers would have to strangle in the cradle.