EU Powers Propose: Gaza Reconstruction in Exchange for Hamas Disarmament

Germany, France and Britain present Israel with initiative aiming to rehabilitate Gaza with European oversight, while preventing terror groups from rearming.

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Palestinian carries items salvaged from the rubble past destroyed buildings in Gaza City's al-Tufah neighborhood, August 6, 2014.
Palestinian carries items salvaged from the rubble past destroyed buildings in Gaza City's al-Tufah neighborhood, August 6, 2014.Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Germany, France and Britain presented Israel with an initiative to rehabilitate the Gaza Strip, subject to an international supervision apparatus that will prevent the rearmament of Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip.

The proposal by the three European states is an answer to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand for the disarmament of Hamas during the fighting in Gaza.

The ambassadors of Germany and France and the deputy ambassador of Britain, who met with National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen in Jerusalem on Wednesday, gave him a two-page document of principles for international agreement about the Gaza Strip. Earlier the three had a similar meeting with senior Foreign Ministry officials.

The principles contained in the document are:

Preventing the armament and strengthening of Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations in Gaza.

Rehabilitating the Gaza Strip in cooperation with the international community and the Palestinian Authority and enabling the transfer of humanitarian aid.

Setting up an international mechanism to prevent the entry of prohibited materials to the Strip and ensuring that materials such as cement and iron do not reach the terror organizations but are used only to rehabilitate Gaza.

Returning the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas to the Gaza Strip.

The possibility of returning the European Union’s Border Assistance Mission to the Rafah border crossing alongside the Palestinian presidential guard.

The document also says that Germany, Britain and France are interested in reaching agreements with Israel and are considering turning these understandings into a binding decision that would be submitted to a vote at the United Nations Security Council.

The European diplomats told the Israeli officials that the document is a proposal for discussion and open to changes. Cohen said he was interested in working together to advance the proposal.

Addressing the UN General Assembly at an informal session on the humanitarian situation in Gaza on Wednesday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for swift investigation of the attacks on UN premises and other suspected breaches of international law.

“UN shelters must be safe zones, not combat zones. Those who violate this sacred trust must be subject to accountability and justice,” he said. “Mere suspicion of militant activity does not justify jeopardizing the lives and safety of many thousands of innocent civilians.”

At his first press conference since the 72-hour cease-fire began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told foreign journalists on Wednesday that the goal of the military operation in Gaza was and remains the protection of Israeli civilians.

He reiterated the need to associate the Gaza Strip’s rehabilitation with its demilitarization.

Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority must be part of any discussion about rehabilitating the Gaza Strip or the security arrangements in it following the war. He said Israel was acting in coordination with Abbas and willing to give the latter a role in rehabilitating the strip. 

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