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Shift the focus. Lieberman
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Ronny Sofer
IDF pulls out of Gaza in 2005
Photo: Ronny Sofer
FM presents: 2nd disengagement from Gaza
Plan aimed at ridding Israel of any responsibility for Strip calls to lift blockade entirely, rehabilitate Hamas-ruled territory with European assistance

Five years after Israel's unilateral disengagement from Gaza, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has proposed a new plan aimed at ridding Israel of any responsibility for the coastal enclave, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday.

 

Lieberman is troubled by the fact that despite the evacuation of all Israeli settlements in Gaza and a full IDF withdrawal, the disengagement was not acknowledged by the international community, which still demands that Israel provide the Strip's residents with their basic necessities.

 

According to the FM's plan, Gaza – with European assistance – will become an entirely independent entity. In this way, Lieberman believes, the world will finally recognize the end of the Israeli occupation there.

 

A confidential document sent to Lieberman recently states that "we must discreetly approach the US, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and renowned international law experts to examine their terms for international recognition of an end to the occupation."

 

In essence, the FM's plan shifts the focus from Israel's relations with the Palestinian Authority to its relations with Hamas – the Islamist movement that rules Gaza.

 

Lieberman is against making further concessions to the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank's Palestinians. "Regardless of what we offer them (PA), they'll only increase their demands without the Israeli side getting anything in return," the FM recently said in closed meetings. "Even if direct negotiations with (Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas are launched, we should not expect anything to come from them."

 

In contrast to the policy which sanctified the blockade on Gaza, Lieberman's plan calls to fully lift the siege and allow ships to dock in the Strip without being inspected in Israel first. Ships that will undergo inspection in Cyprus or Greece will be allowed to continue towards Gaza. According to the proposal, Israel will also allow European countries to implement plans aimed at improving the lives of the coastal enclave's residents. Israel's border with the Hamas-ruled territory will be hermetically sealed.

 

The FM plans to present his plan to Catherine Ashton, the European Union commissioner for foreign affairs, during her scheduled visit to Israel next week. Ashton will be accompanied by six European foreign ministers.

 

Lieberman is expected to ask his European counterparts to propose that Hamas construct a new power plant to generate electricity, a seawater desalination plant and a wastewater purification plant.

 

The FM also supports any international plan for the mass-construction of apartments for Gaza's residents.

 

Furthermore, Lieberman will propose that the Europeans send an international military force to the Israel-Gaza border crossings to enforce any agreement reached.

 

The Foreign Ministry's confidential document also calls on the government to request that a force from the French Foreign Legion and commando units belonging to other European armies be deployed in the region to prevent the smuggling of weapons to Gaza.

 

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