Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) said she presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday with a diplomatic proposal to end the fighting in Gaza while restarting peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Her plan would include, in this order, a ceasefire; the immediate transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza; “steps” that would answer Israel’s security demands while also addressing Gazans’ economic needs; the recognition of Palestinian Authority rule over Gaza overseeing one set of armed forces; the establishment of a Palestinian Authority system that would ensure funds and aid would reach civilians and not terror leaders; the opening of the crossings with Gaza and the simultaneous establishment of a system that would bar the transfer of raw materials, such as concrete, for the purposes of terror; and the renewal of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Livni told Channel 2 she was set to submit the proposal to the security cabinet for approval.
“The steps we are seeking don’t need Hamas’s approval. If Hamas had wanted to have the blockade lifted since 2007 [when it seized power from the PA], it had a choice. It would have stopped the violence, recognized the known agreements [signed between Israel and the Palestinians, including renouncing terrorism] and recognized Israel as a Jewish state. It would have then become [a] legitimate [power].”
“Hamas does not really want to have the blockade lifted. It wants legitimacy as a terror organization that rules Gaza. And Israel will not agree to this,” she said during the interview.
Livni said Israel must continue operating militarily as long as Hamas fires on Israeli cities. She did rule out sending ground forces back into the Gaza Strip. “All military options, from my point of view, are back on the table since Hamas has resumed fire,” she said.
“A peace agreement would not be with Hamas, but against it. Which is why what I propose presents a new [Gaza] order, with Egypt, with Israel, with the Palestinian Authority and with other regional countries,” she said.
“We want to reach an agreement not with those who fire on us, but with those who don’t use violence and terror [against us],” she added.
The former chief negotiator with the Palestinian Authority said she is against negotiating with Hamas and does not think Israel should meet the group’s grandiose demands for a seaport, an airport and a crossing between Gaza and the West Bank. These are things that are part of a permanent agreement, she said, and they should not be given to Hamas as a reward for its use of force. And it would be “out of the question” for Hamas to retain its arms under a PA-led Gaza.
“Most cabinet members understand that if Hamas is the problem — and it is — then [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas and those who do not use terror against us are part the solution,” she said.
“Instead of engaging in this bazaar of what to give Hamas so the quiet returns, let’s look for another opportunity, let’s think outside the box,” she added.
US-brokered peace talks with the Palestinian Authority ended in late April after Abbas signed a unity pact with Hamas, which prompted Netanyahu to discontinue negotiations on the basis of not wanting to negotiate with a government that rested on the support of a terror group.
Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to stop Hamas and other groups’ indiscriminate rocket fire on Israeli cities and destroy the terror tunnels that infiltrate into Israeli territory.
Since the start of the operation, Hamas has rejected a number of ceasefire proposals and violated a number of those that were agreed to, including one last Friday brokered by the US and the UN.
Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians, including a Thai agricultural worker, in the month-long conflict while the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 1,900, according to Gaza medical officials. Israel says 750-1,000 of the Gaza dead are gunmen.
A 72-hour lull that went into effect Tuesday morning held until Friday morning when Hamas renewed its rocket fire and the IDF, after waiting 2.5 hours, responded with air strikes. Hamas fired some 50 rockets into Israel as of Friday evening.