(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett expressed surprising support on Saturday for a deal in which Israel would enable the economic development of the Gaza Strip in return for a promise of a long-term cease-fire from Hamas.
In an interview with Channel 2’s Meet the Press that was taped before Shabbat, Bennett called for Israel to initiate an international effort to rehabilitate Gaza.
“We have a great interest in the civilian rehabilitation of Gaza,” Bennett said.
“There are creative solutions for how to bring about that rehabilitation, along with stopping the building of tunnels and the strengthening [of Hamas]. For instance, the Hamas can be frozen militarily in return for unlimited rice entering [Gaza].”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On praised Bennett for supporting steps to improve the lives of the citizens of the Strip and said she called for such steps immediately after Operation Protective Edge last summer.
“The Right only makes correct decisions after exhausting all other options,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
“But better late than never.”
Bennett reiterated that, unlike Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, he does not favor toppling Hamas and capturing the Gaza Strip.
Asked whether he was bypassing the Likud from the Left, he said he was using his wisdom and that such steps would depend on ensuring that no weapons enter Gaza.
In an interview with Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said Israelis were cautious about further territorial concessions because they saw the results of the withdrawal from Gaza 10 years ago. In the interview, Lapid answered Goldberg’s question about whether US president Barack Obama understands Israel in the affirmative.
“I was in the security cabinet and now I’m on the security committee of the Knesset, so I’m aware of the depth of the military cooperation during his administration, which is the deepest ever,” Lapid said. “So, yes, I think he’s a true friend to Israel.”
Lapid said that, to him, “nothing is more important in Israel’s foreign policy than the relationship with the United States.
“The fact that the superpower of the world has decided to make us, from all nations, its ally and friend is not to be taken lightly, and we need to emphasize this,” he said.