Israeli Defense Chief Says Not Involved in Hamas Deal: 'I Don't Believe in an Agreement'

If the current calm in the region is violated, the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing to Gaza will be closed again, Avigdor Lieberman says ■ Education Minister Bennett commends stance, warns of 'Hezbollah 2' on Gazan border

Avigdor Lieberman meeting with local council heads near Gaza vicinity, today.
Ariel Hermoni / Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Friday he is not involved in an agreement with Hamas, adding that he "does not believe" in a deal with the Gaza faction. Lieberman made the announcement while speaking with leader of regional councils in the Gaza border area.

"Regarding all the stories about an agreement, I have nothing to do with it; I am not involved in the whole issue. I do not believe in it, the only agreement is the reality on the ground," he said.

If the current calm in the region is violated, the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing to Gaza will be closed again, Lieberman said. "What we have seen in recent days is that Hamas has absolute control over everything that is happening here, and all the stories on a spontaneous protest are all under Hamas' control," he said.

"The fact is that in recent days all the violence has dropped to almost zero, " Lieberman said, adding, "I will try to fix this equation, between security and the economy: There is terrorism, there isn't an economy, or there isn't terrorism and there will be an economy. The important message we are trying to convey to Gaza residents, who care about their livelihood and what to feed their family," he concluded.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett responded to Lieberman's comments, saying it was "good" the defense minister joined his perception of the situation with Hamas.

Kerem Shalom crossing, last week.
Ilan Assayag

"We cannot allow Hamas to conduct with us through extortion. It's imperative now to prevent Hamas from re-arming with dozens of rockets so we don't find ourselves with a 'Hezbollah 2' on the Gazan border," said Bennett.

Lieberman's remarks came in the shadow of the delay in the cease-fire agreement between Israel and Gaza's Palestinian factions. 

A Fatah official close to Abbas told Haaretz that a Fatah delegation will leave for the Egyptian capital of Cairo next week to take part in talks with Gaza's factions, including Hamas.

The Fatah official told Haaretz that the Egyptians pressured Abbas last week to send a delegation to Cairo, but the Palestinian president objected on grounds that a separate agreement was being drawn up between Hamas and Israel that would only deepen the divisions and the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.