After the war – The Joseph Accords?

With poor relations between our leaders and turmoil in many countries and their universities, the October 7 atrocities seem to be forgotten by some. Time for an additional message. How about an economic and Biblical message? Here is a plan we call the Joseph Accords.

History teaches us how the war between Israel and Hamas may end – with an economic alternative to war. In WW2, Germany and Japan were very hostile, but once beaten the Marshall Plan revived Europe and General Douglas MacArthur brought American cash and laws to Japan. The Irish troubles finally ended after 800 years with the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and a peace dividend.

The Torah presents an excellent economic precedent regarding Joseph in Genesis 41. Here are some highlights:  Joseph told Pharoah of Egypt: seven years of great abundance are coming throughout Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow. So Pharoah said to Joseph: “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt”. The seven years of abundance came to an end and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe in all the world.

Lesson for today:

The war has lasted over 7 bad months. When it ends, everyone wants at least 7 prosperous years for everyone in this part of the world – Gazans, modern day Egyptians, other Arab countries and Israel. How? Our plan is called the Joseph Accords for Biblical reasons. The aim is to use Torah and economics for the benefit of all and generate hope. The plan is self financing. And the 5 books of Moses (Torah) include Genesis are generally respected by Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Economic opportunity:

Gaza Marine is a natural gas field off the coast of the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Marine natural gas field is located about 36 kilometres (22 miles) offshore at a depth of 2,000 feet (610 m). The field was discovered in 2000 by BG (British Gas) Group and it is estimated to contain more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

For many years after discovery, security and economic negotiations delayed its development (accreditation: Wikipedia).

Clearly gas exploitation would be a huge bonus for the Gazan economy.

Israel’s position

As recently as June 18, 2023, the Israeli government gave preliminary approval for Gaza gas development (which makes the October 7 massacre even more deplorable). The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced:

“In the framework of the existing efforts between the State of Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority (PA), with emphasis on Palestinian economic development and maintaining security stability in the region, it has been decided to develop the Gaza Marine gas field off the coast of Gaza. Israel seeks to maintain the security and diplomatic interests of the State of Israel on the matter” (https://www.gov.il/en/departments/news/spoke-gas180623)

Who would administer it all?

We propose that gas and business/financial managerial experts (i.e. technocrats) be appointed as Trustees to help all concerned – the peoples of the region and the financial backers – perhaps the US, UK, Qatar, Saudia Arabia, Egypt and others. The Trustees would be tasked with overseeing the development and exploitation of the Gaza gas and applying its proceeds via escrow bank accounts to the welfare of the Gaza people (food, education, housing, not terror tunnels).  They would produce detailed audited financial statements confirming this.

Why Trustees?

A trust is a common law concept dating back hundreds of years which is used across English (and Hebrew) speaking countries. Europeans have a roughly similar concept of a Foundation. In a Trust there are three parties:(1) the settlor (or grantor) who sets up the trust (in this case interested countries), (2) the beneficiaries (Gazans mainly), and (3) carefully selected trustees (technocrats) who administer it all. The terms of the trust should be recorded in a trust deed (agreement). In this case, the technocrats as Trustees would be obligated under the trust deed to apply the gas, equipment and proceeds for the welfare of Gazans, not terror. Hamas would have zero signatory powers. Many details would need to be decided, but the above is a macro view of a plausible direction to consider after the war.

Pros and cons:

There would be plenty. The main pro is a potentially durable peace after a terrible war using an economic solution, based on history and Joseph in Genesis – at little or no cost to taxpayers….

Leon Harris

[email protected]

With special thanks to Dr Reuven Gal and Rabbi Elisha Wolfin