Intel Minister Backs Gaza Seaport

YERUSHALAYIM -

Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz has come out in favor of a Palestinian seaport in Gaza, which would help to separate Israel from the Palestinians.

“If we cut off from Gaza — we would be cut off from half of the Palestinian problem,” he told Israel Radio on Sunday.

“The absurd thing is that we evacuated all of the Jews from the Gaza Strip, yet the world regards it as if we remained responsible for it,” he said.

Katz did not suggest that the Palestinian Authority should have unfettered control over a seaport, however. He proposed that the international community should oversee access to such a terminal under Israeli security control.

The seaport has been an ongoing issue vis-à-vis Hamas. In February, a senior Israeli official stipulated that construction and operation of a seaport in Gaza, would only be possible as part of a general peace framework with the Palestinian Authority.

Recently, Israel denied a report that it had agreed to the construction of such a port in the context of negotiations with Turkey.

Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories (COGAT), told Elaph that reports quoting Hamas and Turkish officials to the effect that Israel had agreed to the building of a Gaza seaport were false.

The reports had prompted consternation in both Ramallah and Cairo. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah were disturbed by what they called “Israel’s acquiescence to a seaport in Gaza, which is indicative of a rapprochement between Israel and Hamas.”

The reports were also unwelcome in Cairo, which would like to see less, not more, of Hamas.