To reoccupy the Gaza Strip is not Israel’s policy, which is focused on neutralizing the threats from the region, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday.
At the same, “if Hamas does not stop targeting Israel, we will consider all options – all options are on the table.”
Livni’s comments came in a conference call, organized by The Israel Project, conducted from her car on the way to visit kibbutzim in the South – a conference call interrupted momentarily by a Color Red alert.
“Excuse me, they are telling me there is an alarm here, and rocket fire, but we will continue anyway,” she said.
Livni said the operation was focusing now on the tunnels that were designed to infiltrate into Israel, saying this “was a big goal of this operation for now.”
Asked what could be done to put an end to the “cycle of Gaza fighting,” or whether Israel was destined to “mow the lawn” in Gaza at ever-increasingly short intervals, Livni said the answer was the demilitarization of Gaza.
“This is something that is in the interest not only of Israel, but also [of] the Palestinian side who would like to live in peace, as well as of Egypt and the entire world,” she said.
Livni said demilitarization is something that is needed in Gaza in the long run, and something Israel will discuss with the international community “the day after.”
In the “real long run,” she added, it was clear that “if you reach a comprehensive agreement with the legitimate Palestinian Authority, with the PLO, then Gaza should be part of it, and the demilitarization will be part of the articles of the future agreement.”
Livni said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas supported the Egyptian cease-fire initiative, and was trying to get other leaders to support it as well.
She added that Hamas head Khaled Mashaal and Hamas have taken Palestinians everywhere hostage.
Livni, who was Israel’s lead negotiator in the unsuccessful US-brokered talks with the PA earlier this year, said “it is clear that the two different sides in this conflict are not Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, but on one side you have Israel, the legitimate PA, Egypt, Jordan, and most of the Arab world, and on the other side Hamas and the extremists and those not willing to live in peace here.”