Liberman: Artificial island near Gaza - reward to terrorism

Defense Minister rejects initiative to set up artificial island opposite Gaza, says it would result in weapons being smuggled into Gaza.

Ido Ben Porat,

Liberman at Tel Aviv International Salon
Liberman at Tel Aviv International Salon
Defense Ministry spokesperson

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) on Thursday spoke out against the initiative of Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) to set up an artificial island opposite Gaza.

Speaking at the Tel Aviv International Salon, Liberman also made clear that Israel was not a side in the conflict between Fatah and Hamas which resulted in the current electricity crisis in Gaza.

"What is happening in Gaza is an internal struggle between Hamas and Fatah and between Mahmoud Abbas and Yihya Sinwar. Hamas is the one who is responsible for this crisis... We are willing to supply electricity to Gaza, but they have to pay for it first. This should be made clear, especially to the international community,” he said.

Liberman opined that “building an island and a port in Gaza means giving a reward to terrorism and encouraging it. Hamas will say that thanks to its fight, it has achieved investments worth billions and a new port in Gaza. Who will control this port from a security point of view? This would be the best way to smuggle weapons into Gaza. You cannot maintain our security via a remote control.”

"We have a bitter past experience with things like this, among others with international forces that came to monitor, and then everything collapsed at the moment of truth. It is impossible to maintain security in Gaza with international inspectors,” he stressed.

The Defense Minister also conveyed a message to the moderate Arab states, saying, "We are ready to cooperate with you, we have experience in the fight against terrorism and we are ready to be allies. The peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan have proven themselves, and this is a good example for others."

As for the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, Liberman said, "I do not see a real willingness on the part of the Palestinians to move forward and reach a comprehensive solution. We have failed in this regard so far. I was stunned by Ehud Olmert's proposal in Annapolis, but Abbas refused to sign it. The formula of land for peace is a big mistake."