Monday, September 20th | 14 Tishri 5782

September 12, 2021 4:08 pm

Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid Announces New ‘Economy in Exchange for Security’ Initiative for Gaza

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid speaks during a news conference as he meets with Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita in Rabat, Morocco August 11, 2021. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday presented a comprehensive outline for a change in Israeli policies toward the Gaza Strip, framed as “economy in exchange for security.”

According to the plan, Israel will first enable and assist the reconstruction of Gaza’s infrastructure via massive foreign investment, in exchange for a guarantee of long-term quiet from the terror group Hamas, which rules the Strip.

In the plan’s second phase, Israel will promote major projects like the construction of a new Gaza seaport and a transport connection to the West Bank.

Israeli news site N12 reported that Lapid announced the proposal at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s Annual International Conference at Reichmann University, stating that the initial stage of the plan would concentrate on humanitarian assistance alone, along with “quiet in exchange for quiet” — presumably meaning an end to Hamas rocket attacks and other terror activities on Israel’s southern border. Any terror committed by Hamas, he added, would freeze the process.

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However, Lapid stated, “We are ready to give more than in the past.”

In the first stage, there will be a comprehensive reconstruction of the electricity, gas, housing, transportation, health, and water infrastructure of the Strip. There will also be a mechanism in place to prevent Hamas from diverting funds and materials to terror purposes.

The second stage would depend on the success of the first stage, and will involve “economy in exchange for security,” according to which — so long as Hamas meets certain conditions — projects would be undertaken such as an artificial island off the Gaza coast, the building of a seaport, a transport connection to the West Bank, international investment in the Strip, and economic collaboration with Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority.

Major investors in these second-stage projects would include the European Union, the United States and the World Bank, and will include the participation of the Gulf states, led by the UAE.

Lapid said he had already held “many preparatory talks with parties in the Arab world and the Western world, who are examining the idea.” These, he said, include Egypt, the Gulf states, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and the EU.

The initiative has been formulated, Lapid said, because “the policy that Israel has pursued to date has not fundamentally changed the situation. … We need to change direction.”

“The international community and the people of Gaza need to know that terrorism is the obstacle between them and a normal life,” he asserted.

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