(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman raised his objections to Israel's absence from the international donors conference on Sunday morning set to take place in Cairo throughout the day.
Israel has no interest in preventing the reconstruction of Gaza, he told Israel Radio. "The fact that Israel was not invited to the Cairo meeting does not contribute to the seriousness of the discussions."
Hamas will not willingly disarm, the foreign minister said, raising concerns that future funds raised at the conference will be funneled towards weapons manufacturing and tunnel building.
The Palestinians are the only ones who can prevent another operation in Gaza, he said in the early-morning interview. "Israel has no intention of going back and attacking Gaza. We are not looking for adventures," he said, adding Israel's long-held position that if rocket fire were to resume, Israel would defend itself.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of political-military affairs at the Defense Ministry, downplayed the importance of the conference, saying that the reality on the ground will be determined in Israel, not in Cairo.
Speaking in an Army Radio interview, Gilad, who was part of Israel's negotiating team in the Cairo talks that brought the cease-fire to end Operation Protective Edge in August, said "the apparatus to oversee [rebuilding] is being created here, and the Palestinian Authority is responsible for ensuring that there is rehabilitation."
He added that "the funding and international recognition is in Cairo, but a conference is not an alternative to actual agreements that are being reached here, it's all a masquerade."
US Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Cairo just before 9:00 a.m. ahead of the international donors conference which is slated to begin at 10:00 a.m.
Kerry plans to use the summit to recommit Washington to a two-state solution and keep the door open to negotiations after the collapse of peace efforts in April.
The Palestinian Authority plans to ask the international community for $4 billion to reconstruct Gaza.