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Lapid: Abbas Should Return to Power in Gaza

Finance Minister says that international aid to Gaza should be conditioned on the Palestinian Authority returning to power in place ofHamas.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 8/12/2014, 4:16 AM

Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Finance Minister Yair Lapid
Flash 90

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Monday called on the international community to pull together a massive aid package for Gaza conditioned on the Palestinian Authority returning to power in place of Hamas.

Speaking to the Associated Press (AP), Lapid said that the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is the legitimate authority in Gaza. If Hamas were removed, he said, Israel’s naval blockade on Gaza would end.

Lapid further said that the negotiations on a long-term ceasefire currently being mediated by Egypt should lead to a reopening of the Rafiah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, with the Gaza side controlled by the Palestinian Authority instead of Hamas.

As a next step, he said, Abbas should be in charge of any aid the world community donates to the rehabilitation of Gaza, he said.

"I think this is possible," Lapid said. "We have to remember that the PA was in charge of Gaza and is still the legal ruler of Gaza, and should be there instead of Hamas, which is a terror organization."

"If they want to rebuild the place they live in, then they will have to accept," Lapid said of Hamas.

Referencing the international criticism of Israel for the deaths of civilians, Lapid told AP that "legally we think that we are covered."

"No other nation would have gone out of his way the way we did, trying to prevent innocent casualties. And if Hamas wasn't using those children as human shields, none of this would have happened. But still it's heartbreaking, and the death of anyone who is innocent is a tragedy," he said.

The comments came as Israeli negotiators arrived in Cairo early Monday afternoon to discuss a long-term ceasefire, hours after a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas went into effect.

Hamas has been adamant that Israel accept all its demands in order to achieve a ceasefire, including the opening of a sea port for Gaza.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman rejected Hamas’s demands on Monday, saying that Israel must not allow Hamas's terror on Israel to pay off for the Gaza-based organization.

Speaking to Yedioth Aharonoth, Liberman declared "we must not blink, we must not allow even the smallest appearance that it pays to fight against Israel."

"It cannot be that the result of the clash between Israel and Hamas, which began with the abduction and murder of the three youths and continued in a confrontation in Gaza, will end with Hamas leaving with a feeling that terror pays," clarified the foreign minister.