Daily Israel Report

Lapid Calls for Regional Summit to Demilitarize Gaza

Finance Minister calls to convene a regional summit with Middle Eastern leaders with the goal of rehabilitating and demilitarizing Gaza.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/1/2014, 2:16 AM

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday a press conference at the Government Press Office in Jerusalem, in which he suggested that the Arab world should work with Israel and the West to help rehabilitate Gaza.

In the press conference, the Finance Minister called to convene a regional summit with Middle Eastern leaders with the goal of rehabilitating and demilitarizing Gaza.

“On the 22nd of September the donor countries are scheduled to meet in New York. At that conference the countries of the world will commit aid to rebuild and rehabilitate Gaza. Israel must act before that to avoid a conference where Gaza gets support and Israel gets nothing,” said Lapid.

He called for a regional conference attended by leaders from Egypt, Saudi Arabaia, the Gulf States and representatives of the Quartet.

“That conference should focus on one thing — ensuring the rehabilitation takes place alongside demilitarization,” said Lapid, who added that such a conference “can also provide the framework for a wider diplomatic horizon which will take advantage of the changes in the region to the mutual benefit of Israel and the Arab world.”

Lapid first made the suggestion for the summit last week and said that Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas should be allowed into Gaza in place of Hamas.

Those remarks were dismissed by MK Orit Struk (Jewish Home) who said that Lapid must have not been in Israel in 2005, when Israel pulled out of Gaza and was “rewarded” with endless rocket attacks.

“I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I heard Lapid’s remarks. On the one hand he demands the demilitarization of Gaza and on the other hand he demands that Judea and Samaria be transferred to [Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud] Abbas,” said Struk.

She continued, "Maybe he was not in the country in 2005, when we handed over Gaza to our partner in Ramallah? Or maybe he was on vacation two weeks ago when Mahmoud Abbas was saved from a Hamas coup thanks to the IDF and the Shin Bet?”

"Yair Lapid, stop for a moment and count to 10 or you will find yourself counting 15 seconds on your way to a bomb shelter,” concluded Struk.

Hamas, meanwhile, has rejected the possibility that Gaza will be demilitarized.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Saturday that the demilitarization of any of the Palestinian Arab factions was "inconsistent with international law and our people will not allow it."

"It is not required to disarm the Palestinian people, but rather to disarm the (Israeli) occupation and to ban the American administration from providing it with the weapons that are used to kill children and women," he declared.