Foreign Minister: 'Hamas hasn't changed its ideology, it's looking to ease the burden'

FM Katz explains why Israel wants agreement with Gaza: 'Israel needs to rid ourselves of this absurd responsibility.'

103FM ,

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh
Flash 90

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz on Monday morning spoke to 103 FM Radio regarding the proposed agreement with Gaza's Hamas.

Under the agreement, 5,000 Gazans would be allowed into Israel daily for work purposes. The agreement also includes expansion of the Gaza fishing zone, advancement of a gas pipeline, and increased medical aid - in exchange for a promise by Hamas to prevent rocket fire.

"For a long time, the Egyptians have been holding negotiations, since they have a vested interest in a peaceful Gaza," Katz said. "They don't want a connection between Hamas and Sinai. Israel also has a vested interest in calm and Hamas itself is very stressed out about the fact that it has been isolated. It hasn't changed it's ideology, but it's blocked."

"The Egyptians have blocked the tunnels, Israel harms the smuggling routes into Gaza and enacts a blockade, the Saudis have come out to quarrel with Qatar, among other things because of their connection to Hamas, and Hamas is looking for a pragmatic way to ease the burden on itself."

When asked why people are embarrassed that Israel has an interest in quiet along its border, Katz said, "It's not an issue of feelings, it's an issue of reality. Personally, I don't believe that we can reach a state of true quiet in the long term. Every moment, we'll need to respond to Hamas' activities, so the maximum that we can advance towards is a type of calm. An agreement will also force a solution to the problem of the kidnapped and missing [Israelis], along with other issues."

The difference between agreements and calm, Katz said, is that "calm means they're not firing. That there is civilian activity there. I myself suggested creating an international island five kilometers (3 miles) from Gaza, where the international community provided civil services to Gaza while Israel supervised the sea and not the island itself. We need to rid ourselves of this responsibility which has been left on our backs since the Disengagement, and give the two million people in Gaza an outlet to the world. Since Israel has a kind of absurd responsibility for the population, we are trying to advance something specific."

When asked about whether there was any progress on the issue of bringing the bodies of murdered and kidnapped IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul back to Israel, Katz said: "The person responsible for that is the government coordinator for prisoners and missing persons, who is under the Prime Minister and a special ministerial committee which was created."

"We know who we are facing. It is a cruel organization who uses the bodies of civilians and soldiers. We are trying to do the maximum in order to bring them home. Before I spoke at the United Nations (UN), I met Simcha Goldin and I turned to the UN to implement their policy of not allowing aid donated by countries into Gaza as long as they do not return the soldiers' bodies.

"The world has no reason not to insist they release the captives home. The parents themselves are heroes, they are running all over the world and taking upon themselves what others probably ought to have done."



top