If Israel destroys Hamas, a UN mandate can control Gaza, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday.
Operation Protective Edge is not over, he emphasized, speaking at the opening of a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting.
There are three options for the Gaza Strip, Liberman said: Destroy Hamas, reach a diplomatic arrangement, or “limbo, something undefined where they shoot and we respond.”
“In my opinion, the third option is simply irrelevant.
It gives Hamas the option of initiating and we just react. A normal country can’t be run by the whims of a terrorist organization,” he added.
“The goal, as far as we’re concerned, is to bring quiet, get rid of the threat of the rockets and prevent [Hamas] from growing stronger,” the foreign minister explained.
If Israel destroys Hamas, a UN mandate controlling Gaza can be a serious option, he said. “In the case of Kosovo, we saw a UN mandate work and therefore, I think we need to bring back a UN mandate in the region.
“I wouldn’t reject that option. The international community always demands that Israel go back to ’67 borders and dismantle all settlements, and in the case of Gaza, we went back to those borders and dismantled all the settlements. What did we get in return? Eighteen thousand missiles and rockets. We need to wake up from the delusion that going back to ’67 borders will bring quiet and stability,” Liberman said.
MK Nachman Shai (Labor) took issue with the proposal to install a UN mandate in Gaza, saying the idea “belongs to another world” and that the government should aim for a two-state solution, which the international community supports.
“Any other proposal has no chance and is only meant to sabotage a two-state solution,” he said.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On said, “It is strange that the foreign minister, who destroyed our relations with the international community, is now throwing his lot in with them and expects the UN to solve Israel’s problems.”
Gal-On pointed out that the UN recognized a Palestinian state – as an observer – two years ago, which includes Gaza and the West Bank, meaning that it sees the Strip as controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
“Nothing will replace a direct dialogue with the Palestinian Authority,” she said. “The only solution at this point, in order to avoid another round of violence, is to apply Palestinian sovereignty to Gaza and the West Bank and strengthen moderates in the PA, with the full backing of the Arab League and the international community.”
Liberman also addressed cease-fire talks, saying that Hamas’s demands in Egypt are a “non-starter.”
A diplomatic solution would be a complex challenge, the Yisrael Beytenu chairman said, commending Foreign Ministry envoys for working hard to gain “diplomatic credit” allowing IDF action over the past four weeks.
“Today, every international forum understands the Israeli demand to demilitarize Gaza...Every foreign minister understands that the demand for demilitarization is more than legitimate,” Liberman said.
MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said “the [IDF] operation may not have ended, but at the moment the ball is in the diplomatic court of the Foreign Ministry.”
Elkin praised the government for not negotiating with Hamas, a terrorist organization.
However, MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) said that not participating in cease-fire talks would lead to Hamas’s terms being forced on Israel.
“Even after this war, the government and prime minister don’t understand that it is their responsibility to talk to moderates – and there are many in the Arab world – and even in this round the Israeli government is hardly getting us temporary, fragile quiet and is not concerned with longterm security,” Michaeli posited.
Liberman also discussed foreign media coverage of Operation Protective Edge.
“Most of the reports in the international press on what is happening in Gaza reflects harm to civilians, but they are not one-sided; our narrative is presented, as well,” he said.
Still, Liberman accused foreign press in Gaza of cooperating with Hamas.
“You won’t see how Hamas attacks those who protest against them and you won’t see [Hamas] shooting from mosques” in the foreign press, he pointed out.
Before Liberman spoke, Elkin commended IDF soldiers for their “heroic” actions during Operation Protective Edge.
On Sunday night, Elkin told The Jerusalem Post of a new policy he established, sending at least one representative of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to visit the family of each soldier killed in action while it sits shiva.
“We want to show respect to the family and show how much we appreciate their contribution, and this allows them to send messages to security officials through us,” he explained.
Elkin pointed out that, while the committee does not make decisions on the level of the security cabinet, it plays a role.
Therefore, “members of the committee have to see the price [of the decisions] and feel it in an unmediated way,” he said.
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