Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid proposes Gaza development plan

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Israel’s Foreign Minister has proposed improving living conditions in Gaza in exchange for the calm of the enclave’s Islamist Hamas leaders, with the aim of resolving “endless rounds of violence” as the two sides exchanged fresh fire during the weekend.

The plan, which includes infrastructure and employment benefits, aims to show Palestinians in the Israeli-blockaded enclave that Hamas’s campaign of violence against Israel is “the reason they live in conditions of poverty, scarcity, violence and high unemployment, no hope “, Yair Lapid. he said on Sunday.

He stressed that he was not asking for negotiations with Hamas, as “Israel does not speak to terrorist organizations that want to destroy us.”

Lapid, who will take over as prime minister in two years as part of a rotation deal, admitted that his plan does not yet amount to official policy in Israel’s eight-party coalition government, but said he had the support of the prime minister. Minister Naftali Bennett.

In the first stage of the plan, infrastructure in Gaza, an impoverished territory of two million people, would receive a much-needed upgrade, Lapid said in a speech at Reichman University in Herzliya.

“The electrical system will be repaired, gas will be connected, a water desalination plant will be built, significant improvements will be made to the health system and a reconstruction of the housing and transportation infrastructure will be carried out,” he said.

“In return, Hamas will commit to maintaining long-term calm,” he added, noting that the international community would play a role in the process, especially Egypt, towards southern Gaza.

“It will not happen without the support and participation of our Egyptian partners and without their ability to speak to everyone involved,” Lapid said.

“Any non-compliance by Hamas will stop the process or delay it,” he warned.

If the first stage went smoothly, Gaza would see the construction of an artificial island off its coast that would allow for the construction of a port, and a “transportation link” would be created between Gaza and the West Bank.

Lapid said he had presented the plan to “partners in the Arab world” as well as the United States, Russia and the European Union.

“There is still work to be done, we are still on the drawing board, but if this plan has a chance to be successful and gets widespread support, I propose it to the government as the official position,” he said.

Just hours after Lapid’s comments, the specter of renewed violence broke out. The Israeli army said it had intercepted a rocket launched from Gaza into southern Israel, the third such incident in two days.

During the night of Monday, Israel returned the attack, its fighter jets attacking four Hamas military complexes and a tunnel in the Palestinian enclave, the Israeli army said in a statement.

There were no reports of injuries, according to the AFP team in Gaza.

Israel and Hamas fought their last full-scale war in May, the fourth since 2008. The conflict ended with an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in late May that Israeli air strikes in the territory had caused “the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.”

(AFP)