A proposed multinational force deployed along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt must be willing to fight Hamas to stop weapons smuggling in the area, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday. Livni said Israel was not interested in any proposal involving a monitoring force for the Philadelphi corridor where, she said, Hamas used tunnels to bring in weapons. "Those who are talking in terms of international forces have to understand that the meaning is not monitoring forces but forces that are willing to fight, to confront Hamas on the ground," Livni said.
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"The question is the effectiveness of these (multinational) forces. We don't need monitors to come in to tell us about the (smuggling), we need someone to stop it," she told a news conference during an official visit to Portugal.
Livni rejected the possibility of deploying an international force inside the Gaza Strip.
"I don't think that this is relevant ... when the situation is that Hamas controls everything," she said.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed the possible deployment of a multinational force in Gaza with the Security Council on Wednesday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday proposed stationing international forces along the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt to prevent arms from reaching Palestinian terrorists.
Livni said the Gaza Strip fighting was "an internal problem" for Palestinians.
"Let's wait and see what the Palestinians do," she said. "We are waiting. We are watching the situation very closely."
She urged the international community to join Israel in strengthening the strategy of isolating extremist movements, such as Hamas, and encouraging moderates, including Fatah.
On Thursday, US officials expressed doubt that the international community would be willing to risk its troops in the region. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that although the US would consider any such proposal, it was unlikely that any country would be ready to volunteer forces.
"We'll, of course, take a look at whatever the Secretary General has to propose. And I have to confess I haven't seen any details of such a proposal. But I would, just as an initial reaction, put out for you that I think it would be difficult to find forces that would be ready and effective in going into such a clearly non-permissive environment," said McCormack.