(photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The international community must work to ensure Gaza is demilitar ized as it rehabilitates it, Finance Minister Yair Lapid said on Monday.
Lapid called for a regional summit with international support to ensure Israel’s security needs are met while donor countr ies work to rebuild Gaza.
“Operation Protective Edge star ted a month and a half ago. We still can’t say it’s over. The operation will end only when security and quiet is returned to residents of the South. We cannot accept a situation in which we will go back to another round of violence in a short time,” Lapid said at a Yesh Atid faction meeting in Tel Aviv.
In order to reach those goals, international backing is necessary, he said. Without it, “any attempt to reach a [cease-fire] agreement will be a countdown to the next round of violence.”
Lapid pointed out that the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee, a group of 15 countries that coordinates donations to the Palestinians, led by Norway, plans to meet in September to discuss how to rebuild Gaza.
“If we don’t do something before that, there will be a conference to rehabilitate Gaza in return for nothing, without us receiving any assurances of our security needs in return,” the Finance Minister explained.
“A regional summit, with the US, EU, Egypt, Palestinian Authority, Saudi Arabia and gulf countries participating, with support from the AHLC, could create a joint outline for demilitarization and rehabilitation in Gaza,” he said.
Lapid called for money to rebuild Gaza to be used to give control of the area to the Palestinian Authority, which he said would ensure long-term quiet for residents of t he South.
In response to a question as to whether the international summit could work on issues in the West Bank, Lapid said t hat it was possible, but he preferred to focus on t he immediate problems in Gaza.
Similarly, former IDF intelligence chief and director of the Institute for National Security Studies Amos Yadlin, called for the UN Security Council to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire, as opposed to a cease-fire with Hamas that does not call for demilitarization.
“A UNSC resolution will solidify the principle of ‘reconstruction for demilitarization’ in Gaza and the return of PA to the Gaza strip,” Yadlin tweeted.
Lapid said at the Yesh Atid faction meeting that he was working to give more support and aid to residents of the South and that his ministry opened special offices in the South to help people receive reparations for damages.
“We heard their needs and acted quickly to help them. We aren’t abandoning them,” he said of residents of the South.
Lapid mentioned the NIS 50 million investment in a “student village” in Sderot and said he will continue to help higher education in the southern region.
“This is our strength. If you’re looking for a victory photo, this is it: Young Israelis choosing to move to the South to learn, work and contribute to the community,” he stated.
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