A plan for ending the current conflict between Israel and Hamas by offering a huge sum in return for demilitarization continued gaining support Monday.
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of General Staff, presented the plan last week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister immediately endorsed the idea and first spoke about demilitarizing Gaza as a goal at a Knesset press conference with Italian Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini.
Mofaz also received endorsements from President Shimon Peres and opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor). He was due to present it to American officials Monday ahead of the arrival of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Mofaz’s Kadima colleague, MK Yisrael Hasson, has presented it in Arabic to Palestinian Authority officials.
“It’s thinking outside the box, so it should be seriously considered and transformed from an idea to a work plan,” Mofaz said. “If all the relevant players do their part, it could yield long-term results.”
The plan calls for the international community to oversee the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip using the same system that is successfully ridding Syria of chemical weapons. In return, Arab countries and the international community would provide the Palestinian Authority with 50 billion dollars to rehabilitate refugee camps and build the Gaza Strip.
The sum was based on a Canadian assessment of what would be required to build up the Gaza Strip economically.
Mofaz, who wrote the plan long before the operation in the Gaza Strip began, said it could take up to six months to negotiate and up to a year to implement.
Mofaz said the only options besides demilitarization were a cease-fire that would inevitably lead to more Hamas attacks and Israeli reprisals or conquering the Gaza Strip, both of which he said were unadvised.
“There is no other country facing constant rocket attacks, and Israel cannot permit another round,” he said. “People say demilitarization is unrealistic, but the alternatives of going through this again in a year or two or capturing Gaza are unacceptable.”
Mofaz said other advantages of his plan were that demilitarization would be part of any final-status agreement, it is in the interest of Arab countries, and their support could be the basis for an eventual regional approach to a broader final-status agreement with the Palestinian Authority.
Support from Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas could be the key to advance such a plan. Israeli and Egyptian officials have talked in recent days about Abbas playing more of a role in the Gaza Strip following the operation.
“Abbas would be in a better position if he came into Gaza with $50 billion than if he were brought in on an IDF tank,” Mofaz said.
“With such a massive investment, the Palestinians would have a lot more to lose.”