Lieberman: Declare Gaza hostile political entity
Yisrael Beitenu chairman suggests new strategy on how to deal with Hamas. Plan includes harsher response to Qassams, cutting all ties with Gaza Strip, isolating area from West Bank
Declaring Gaza a hostile entity and an enemy state is part of the new political plan which was presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister fro Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday.
The plan's main points include complete severance of ties with the Gaza Strip, isolating the Strip from the West Bank, bombing Gaza in retaliation of Qassam attacks, canceling Palestinian prisoners' visitation rights until kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit is released, and ending all contact with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Yisrael Beitenu chairman's plan stems from his belief that "being part of the axis of evil comes with a heavy economic, political and security toll."
Lieberman explained that current Israeli perception offers only two options on how to deal with the Palestinians: Acknowledgment and acceptance of the existing situation, which consequently rewards terror; or dialogue with the Hamas government in an attempt to find a way out of the situation.
Lieberman claimed that both alternatives are equally wrong: "They both validate the axis of evil and they both shed doubt on the future of the State of Israel."
The new political plan, which was presented to government officials in the United States and Europe this week, has not yet been introduced to the Israeli government.
Nonetheless, Lieberman plans to follow through on his plan, which constitutes Yisrael Beitenu's vision as part of the current government. According to Lieberman, this plan presents a pragmatic approach, which will bring Israel a practical solution to the chaotic state it is in with the Palestinian Authority.
No movement between Gaza, West Bank
In his plan, the deputy prime minister refers to the West Bank and Gaza as two separate entities, both on the political level and on the practical level.
Israel will address both entities separately. Any negotiation with the Palestinian Authority will only apply to the West Bank. "Gaza will be defined as a hostile independent political entity for all intents and purposes," Lieberman explained.
Lieberman suggested practical steps toward the implementation of his plan: There will be no movement between Gaza and the West Bank, not of goods, and not of people. This restriction of movement includes the Palestinian president's aides and Palestinians VIPs.
Workers will not be permitted to leave Gaza to work in Israel. Taxes for the Gaza Strip will not be collected. The Ashdod port will not transfer any goods to the Strip. All crossings, including Karni crossing will be sealed.
Israel will not provide Gaza authorities with any type of infrastructure or resource. The Gazans will have to find their own solutions to problems of fuel, water, and electricity.
Lieberman said that the process of complete severance of ties will begin in 2008, when all contact between Israel and Gaza will be cut off.
"Gaza's fate will be like that of Sinai," Lieberman's plan said. "Just as Israel did not continue to provide anything to Sinai after it withdrew, there is no reason why it should act any differently toward Gaza, especially in the current situation."
'If Sderot is hit, Gaza will be hit just as hard'
Leading up to the complete separation from Gaza and from that point onward, Israel will treat any security threat coming from the Strip very severely. Israel will work toward thwarting the threat by any means available, just as any sovereign country is meant to do in order to protect its citizens from an enemy attack.
"It's very simple," said Lieberman, "Sderot's fate will be similar to that of the Gazan neighborhood of Rimal, if Sderot is hit, the Rimal neighborhood will be hit just as hard at the very least."
"The security situation will change only when NATO forces and the European Union take full responsibility for what goes on in the Gaza Strip. NATO will act to enforce public order and preserve security in the region. The European Union will take responsibility for the construction and opening of alternative infrastructure and provide employment for the residents of Gaza.
"Financial activity will include not only money transfers, donations and investments, but the management and close supervision of projects being started and infrastructure being built. Otherwise, the money will evaporate, or be used to fund terror against Israel and those international forces."
Lieberman further added that "as long as (Gilad) Shalit is held captive with no way to visit him, not even by the Red Cross, visitation rights of all Palestinians security prisoners held in Israel should be cancelled immediately."
Israel should also admit to the failure in its attempt to strengthen Abbas, said Lieberman, adding that the Jewish state should "admit that every attempt to strengthen him or place his as a partner who is capable of getting the job done, has failed. Israel should wait for an authentic replacement with leadership potential and a pragmatic outlook."