Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman this week called on the Palestinian residents of Gaza to overthrow their Hamas rulers, promising that Israeli support and assistance for Gazan civilians will be forthcoming if the terror group is uprooted.
Speaking at the Netanya Academic College on Wednesday night, Liberman said Hamas was engaging in “robbery on broad daylight” and accused the terror group of taking taxes from Gaza’s residents which he said “are not going to benefit those residents, not to the health system or the education system, or the electricity grid, but to make missiles, weapons and tunnels – and people aren’t willing to tolerate this,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
Commenting on recent protests in the Gaza Strip over severe and extended blackouts, Liberman said the protests are fomenting unrest among the residents of Gaza and causing difficulties for Hamas.
Liberman noted that high unemployment, low economic development and opportunity, and high population growth were all contributing factors to the restive situation in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East.
He pointed to the West Bank as an example of economic success and security and said that “a successful Palestinian economy is in the security interest of Israel.”
“If the residents of Gaza took responsibility for their own fate and got rid of Hamas, we would be the first to build industrial zones there at Kerem Shalom and Erez crossing and build a seaport and airport. There is potential, but the ball is in their court,” the defense minister added.
During his speech at the college Liberman bemoaned the United States’ retreat from regional events in the Middle East, and said that the Palestinians would never agree to end the decades-long conflict with Israel unless Israel signs a broad, inclusive agreement with moderate Arab states, sponsored by the US.
Liberman said the recently-agreed ceasefire in Syria was “unprecedented” in that it was achieved with no involvement from Washington.
“Russia, Turkey, Iran and other players are all active, and the most important actor is not on the map,” Liberman noted. “I hope this is a onetime precedent.”
Breaking with his cabinet colleagues in the Jewish Home party, who are pushing for annexation of the large settlement blocs in the West Bank, Liberman, himself a resident of the small community of Nokdim who famously said that for peace he would evacuate his own home, said that Israel should not take unilateral steps to annex any part of the West Bank or advance the Settlements Arrangements Law at this stage.
The bill aims to give retroactive legitimization to Israeli communities built in the West Bank.