The Palestinian Authority could have returned to Gaza after Operation Protective Edge last summer, but they refused and preferred instead to try and sue Israel before the International Criminal Court, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said on Monday.
“We tried to enable the Palestinian Authority to enter the Gaza Strip and they did not want to,” he said in a prerecorded video that was played at the annual conference of the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.
“They ran away,” he added.
“They are good at blaming us in the UN Security Council and in the ICC, but when they need to take responsibly they are gone,” Ya’alon said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas “does not want to enter Gaza,” he said.
Israel, he said, worked out a three-way mechanism with the PA, the United Nations and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, to increase the flow of goods into Gaza, Ya’alon said.
This mechanism would have been largely implemented at the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel into Gaza – the major passageway for goods into the Strip. In addition, the PA Presidential Guard would have been on the Gaza side of the Rafah border with Egypt, he said.
Egypt preferred to have the PA there instead of Hamas, which it views as a partner organization of the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood he said, but the PA did not hold up its end of the arrangement at either crossing.
Those working to bring merchandise into Gaza remain Israel and the UN, he said.
While the PA has remained outside of Gaza, he said that it would not fall apart in the West Bank unless it wanted to.
There is a fear, he said, a climate has been created in which the Palestinian Authority would stop functioning effectively and may even collapse.
The Palestinians, he said, “are threatening to collapse it.”
“If they want, they will collapse it, but we do not have an interest in them collapsing it,” he said.
Israel, he said, prefers to have the PA in the West Bank.
“I want a stable PA one that is capable and competent and that we can cooperate with.
I do not want them to collapse,” he said.
He wanted Palestinians to have lives of dignity with economic prosperity – to do that they have to help their economy thrive and not rely on donations, improve infrastructure, water and elections.
Israel would like to separate from the Palestinians, but does not want to manage their affairs and it is important for Israel to take steps to help advance the Palestinian economy and to improve day to day life for them in territories, Ya’alon said.
The differences between the Israelis and Palestinians are too large to be resolved through the creation of a two-state solution; “The gaps are huge. We have no meeting ground. We must internalize that we will not solve the conflict, but we have to manage it wisely,” he said.
Past attempts to resolve the conflict, had not succeeded, he said.
“So let us be more modest” and not look for “ceremonies on the lawn.”
With regard to Iran, he argued that its regime has “apocalyptic messianic ambition.”
Ya’alon warned it would become a nuclear threshold state under the terms of the agreement now under negotiation between Tehran and the six world powers.
The choice before the world powers is “no deal or a bad deal,” Ya’alon said.
The P5+1; the US, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany erred by allowing the negotiations to focus on how many centrifuges Iran could retain rather then insisting that the centrifuges be removed.
“Instead of holding to a rigid and clear position of zero centrifuges, the discussions became about how many they would have,” Ya’alon said.
Although Iran has made some concessions, they were not enough to prevent Iran from continuing to threaten the region.
From Israel’s perspective, he said, “no deal is better than a bad deal” because it allows the world powers the freedom to impose more sanctions against it.
Crippling sanctions forced Iran to the negotiating table, but now, “this pressure is gone,” Ya’alon said.
Renewed crippling sanctions, Ya’alon said, would force Iran to chose between halting its nuclear program or survival.