Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman went around Hamas on Thursday with a video interview that proposed a peace deal directly to the people of Gaza: If terrorist activities such as rockets and tunnels are permanently halted, Israel will help them build sea and airports.
“Let’s talk,” suggested Liberman in Arabic, on the new Arabic, Hebrew and English website of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT).
The defense minister proceeded to dangle the carrot of economic cooperation and prosperity:
“The second that Hamas gives up on the [terror] tunnels and rockets, we will be the first to invest and build for them both a seaport and airport, as well as an industrial zone — both in Kerem Shalom and in Erez,” referring to border areas near crossing points into Israel.
“We could immediately create 40,000 jobs for Gaza residents, assuming Hamas gives up its [charter] article [calling for ‘the destruction of the state of Israel,’ gives up on the tunnels, gives up on the rockets, and, of course — and this is the first and most important thing — returns the bodies of our soldiers and returns our civilians being held captive.”
Explaining his new approach, he said: “We want direct dialogue with the Palestinian public, not through intermediaries, nor through the media, which is generally not sympathetic to Israel’s positions and views.”
In addition to advance dialogue, he said that he would be available to personally answer questions from Gazans via the site. “I’m prepared to speak with them directly through live stream, to receive questions from them and to answer their questions,” he said.