Yair Lapid
Yair LapidYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid participated in Lobby for Diplomatic Vision for Gaza conference initiated by MK Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid) in the Knesset.

Also participating in the conference were Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu).

"Immediately after Operation Protective Edge, I was sure - and I said - that Israel needs to to offer Gaza a huge deal of rehabilitation in exchange for Hamas disarming," Lapid said. "We had a window of opportunity then, mostly concentrated around the Ad Hoc Liason Committee's (AHLC) conference.

"For political reasons, the government did not take the initiative. As as a result, the AHLC decided to provide Gaza with over $5 billion in aid, and we received no security or diplomatic benefit.

"I don't want to talk about the past, but we need to learn from it. Doing nothing is a decision, and it's usually a bad decision. Israel must initiate, or the other side will do so instead.

"Israel does not want to conquer Gaza. But even more than that, Israel has a definite interest in improving the lives of Gaza's civilians. Not only because that's the humane thing to do, but also because it will delay the next round of war.

"I think that improving the lives of Gaza civilians will improve our security and our ability to bring the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul back to Israel. I also believe it will improve our chances of freeing Avraham Mengistu from his imprisonment at the hands of Hamas."

Hadar and Oron were IDF soldiers who fell during a UN-initiated ceasefire in 2014's Operation Protective Edge. Their bodies have been held by the Hamas terrorist organization ever since.

Avraham Mengistu suffers a mental illness and accidentally walked into Gaza. He has not been seen or heard from since, and Hamas refuses to tell Israel if he is dead or alive.