Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird called on Thursday for the demilitarization of the West Bank and Gaza in response to the recent spate of rocket attacks and the abduction last week in the West Bank of three Israeli teens.
In an op-ed in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, Baird urged the Palestinian Authority, which recently announced a new Fatah-Hamas unity government, to show it could exercise its sovereignty by locating the missing teenagers and stopping rocket attacks by various Palestinian terror groups in Gaza.
“Hamas remains a terrorist organization with an unrepentant commitment to the destruction of Israel. But with that reassertion of authority must come a reapplication of responsibility – responsibility to uphold the Quartet principles in Gaza…. There is no place for militias, private armies or alternative security forces. The principle of ‘one authority, one gun’ must be enforced,” wrote Baird.
Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority has “made progress on improving security in the West Bank…. Now it is time to build on that progress and show the world that they can stop [rocket] attacks in Gaza and hold their perpetrators accountable. That’s what responsible governments do. And that is what is required if the notion of Palestinian sovereignty is to ever have hope,” he wrote.
But, he noted, “nothing we have seen from Hamas since the new [Fatah-Hamas unity] government emerged gives us any hope that they will willingly, permanently cede real control, or abandon their ideological commitment to the destruction of Israel. Hamas remains the only real authority in Gaza. Their police remain on its streets, and their bureaucrats and apparatchiks continue to control people’s lives.”
To show he could deliver on the promise that the new unity government would be bound by the principles of the peace-process Quartet, including recognition of Israel and the renunciation of violence, Abbas was obliged to disarm Hamas and other terror groups, including “the removal of existing stockpiles of thousands of largely Iranian-supplied missiles nestled and shielded amidst the homes, grocers and schools of Palestinians”; end the production and smuggling of weapons by terror groups; and enforce total Palestinian Authority control over both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.