Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) unveiled his new plan for stabilizing relations between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, calling for expanded rehabilitation of the coastal enclave in exchange for an end to terrorist attacks on Israel.
Speaking at the International Conference on Counter-Terrorism hosted by IDC Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Sunday evening, Lapid laid out his vision for massive economic growth in the Gaza Strip in exchange for help from the international community and the Palestinian Authority to ensure that the Hamas terrorist organization which rules the Strip does not use aid money to rearm.
Dubbing the plan’s formula “economy-for-security”, Lapid said the program amounts to a “more realistic version” of the previous “rehabilitation for demilitarization” formula.
“The purpose of the process is to create stability on both sides of the border. Civil, security, economic and diplomatic. The international community and the people of Gaza need to know that Hamas terrorism is what's standing between them and a normal life.”
The alternative, Lapid said, is either to seize control of the Strip, or continue to fight round after round with Hamas.
“For too long the only two options on the table have been conquering Gaza, or never-ending rounds of violence. Those are two bad options. Conquering Gaza goes against our national interest. There is nothing for us there.”
“Rounds of violence wear down the IDF, our international legitimacy and the solidarity and resilience of Israeli society. That's not a reality we can accept. The obligation of the Israeli government is to come to our citizens and show them that we have left no stone unturned in seeking a solution for the question of Gaza."
Under his plan, Israel would allow for a significantly expanded aid package to rebuild the Gaza Strip, while the international community “will use its influence over Hamas to assist in the efforts to stop Hamas arming itself. It will work to strengthen efforts to prevent smuggling and an economic oversight mechanism will be put into place to prevent resources going to Hamas.”
“In exchange for quiet, we are willing to give more than before. If the quiet is breached, Hamas and the other terror organizations need to know that the response will be harsher than before.”
The Palestinian Authority will be given control of the border crossings between Gaza and Israel, Lapid continued, with the PA ultimately becoming “a central operating and supervising body, and which will be enshrined through a UN Security Council resolution.”
In stage two, an artificial island will be constructed for the Gaza Strip, paving the way for the opening of a massive port serving the enclave. Donations will also be used to build “industrial and employment zones” near the Israeli border along the Erez crossing.
Furthermore, Israel will permit the construction of a “transportation link” across its territory connecting the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria.