Caution be damned, here we go:
The argument for the blockade of Gaza is that if it is lifted, Hamas will be free to re-arm, and Iran will increase its influence in the area.
The arguments against the blockade are that it causes hardship to the population, prevents development of the legitimate economy, encourages the illegitimate smuggler economy, and fails to prevent Hamas re-arming.
I’d make one more argument against the blockade: it reinforces the primacy of the Israel-Palestine conflict in the lives of Gaza residents. This might seem a bit too obvious, but I read little or no comment on the possibility of changing Gaza’s relationship with the world to something broader than the dysfunctional Israel-Palestine binary relationship.
I think long term peace depends not just on improving the binary relationship, but on diminishing its importance relative to other relationships between Gaza residents and the wider world.
My back of an envelope solution is to put Gaza’s port under the control of a UN Port Authority mandated by the UN Security Council, with control over customs, security and economic development in the port area.
I fully trust this is a solution that will please no-one. The history of UN Oil For Food in Iraq comes to mind, as does UN failure in the Bosnian war. A UN regime at the port would no doubt be unable to stop smuggling and corruption, and would probably offer new possibilities in this area. It would be unable to stop Hamas re-arming. But these downsides are likely in any case.
Here are a couple more things a UN Port Authority would not do. It would not exert any control over Palestinian politics in Gaza outside of the port area. It would not prevent Israel or Hamas from waging war. Again, no change there.
So what could change? A UN Port Authority should have as part of its mandate the greatest possible development of economic and cultural connectivity between Gaza and the wider world. It should be an active investor in developing the port as an international shipping centre, not just a deposit point for aid. It should allow and encourage a legitimate economy to develop. It should facilitate the free flow of information between Gaza and the wider world. It should facilitate the free passage of people from and to Gaza.
A UN Port Authority could open the door for Gaza to step outside of the Israel-Palestine binary relationship.