Liberman: Hamas Demilitarization 'Unlikely'

Despite 50 days of war and 66 soldiers killed in Operation Protective Edge, Israel shouldn't expect Gaza to disarm, Foreign Minister said.

Yaakov Levi ,

Avigdor Liberman
Avigdor Liberman
Flash 90

During 50 days of war against Hamas in Gaza, one of the stated goals of Israel was the demilitarization of Gaza. Officials and politicians from parties both right and left demanded that Israel ensure the disarmement of Gaza as a condition of instituting a permanent ceasefire, and as a prerequisite for allowing Gaza to rebuild after the devastating blow the IDF imposed on the Hamas-controlled area.

But disarming Gaza is very unlikely, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Sunday. Speaking to Voice of Israel public radio, Liberman said that demanding Gaza demilitarize was “unrealistic at this time, although the issue will remain on the table.” Liberman added that Israel must not give up in its efforts to dislodge Hamas from running Gaza and must work to remove the terror group from its control of the territory, even though polls show that Hamas has become much more popular among Gazans after Operation Protective Edge's conclusion.

One way Hamas could be brought down several pegs, said Liberman, was by a refusal by Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to continue his partnership with the Gaza terror group. Hamas, he said, was no less dangerous than ISIS, the Islamist terror group that controls wide areas of Iraq and Syria. Hamas was also dangerous to Abbas, whom the Gaza terrorists planned on replacing. For his own good, if not for Israel's, Abbas should immediately break off his coalition with Hamas, Liberman said.

Asked about the fate of Hamas top terrorist Mohammed Deif, the elusive commander of the Izz-a-din al-Kassim terror group – who may or may not be alive, depending on who one believes – Liberman said that “if until now we have not heard him speak, we can be optimistic” about his fate, by which Liberman meant that Deif was most likely dead. According to reports, Deif may have been killed or badly injured in an IDF strike on his home in late August.

Liberman added that new elections are not on the agenda, “certainly not with all the unrest in the Middle East at this time.”