MKs Demand a Diplomatic Solution in Gaza

At Knesset session various MKs warn 'next round' is coming and can only be avoided by diplomacy, but remain divided over policy.

Hezki Baruch ,

MK Haim Yellin
MK Haim Yellin
Knesset Spokesperson

The Knesset held a special full plenum session on Tuesday afternoon marking a year since the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza; a year later, the politicians were still divided as to what Israel's stance vis-a-vis the Hamas enclave should be, but were unified in calling for a new policy.

MK Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid), who was head of the hard-hit Eshkol Regional Council during the war, sharply criticized the coalition government for not finding a political solution regarding Gaza.

"A year has passed and there is still no hope, we are waiting for the next round," said Yellin. "Nothing changed, and nothing will change as long as the prime minister thinks that there is no solution and we need to continue to manage the conflict."

He said that "in the absence of a policy we will never get out of this vortex of blood and continuation of rocket fire. No one is promising quiet and peace, but the role of the leadership is to lead, to unify and to unite the people for a better future."

Directly addressing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Yellin added, "we can't give up, give it a try. No one will accuse you for an attempt to get out of managing the conflict and bringing a political prospect to the state of Israel."

There have been various reports in recent weeks indicating indirect talks between Hamas and Israel regarding an extended ceasefire spanning several years, even as the terrorist organization which has the genocide of all Jews written into its charter rebuilds its attack tunnels and rocket arsenal.

How to subdue terror?

Taking the podium, MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) warned that "it is clear to all of us that this enemy must be defeated and subdued, and we must not just put off the next clash."

"The basic solution is to see a flourishing Gaza under civilian control, but the path to reach that is the path of subduing terror," added Yogev.

Yogev did not specify how he planned to weaken Hamas's rule; one route that has been suggested is the disarmament of Gaza. The chairman of Yogev's party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, recently made a similar call to reconstruct Gaza and freeze Hamas's "military benefits," but did not call for the disarmament of Gaza as a precondition for aid.

By contrast, Labor head Yitzhak Herzog in February called "for the demilitarization of the Gaza strip in exchange for very significant reconstruction."

MK Aida Touma-Suleiman of the Joint Arab List also spoke in the Knesset session, saying that "the Palestinian people will continue to struggle as long as there's an occupation. The only way for true humane security for the two peoples consists of an end to the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem."

In response, Yellin said, "what occupation? The last soldier that was in the Gaza Strip was Gilad Shalit."