Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has proposed a multi-year, two-step program to leverage economic incentives to deter terrorism from the Gaza Strip.
Lapid dubbed his proposal ‘a new vision” of “economy in return for security,” fending off skeptics by asserting that it has never failed because it has never been tried before.
“For too long the only two options on the table have been conquering Gaza, or never-ending rounds of violence,” said Lapid, who pronounced them both “bad options. Conquering Gaza goes against our national interest. There is nothing for us there. Rounds of violence wear down the IDF, our international legitimacy and the solidarity and resilience of Israeli society.”
Instead, he argued for “advancing a formula of economy for security [that] will force Hamas to explain to the residents of Gaza why they live in conditions of poverty, scarcity, violence, and high unemployment, without hope.”
In the first stage, he said, Israel would offer “an upgraded humanitarian rehabilitation of Gaza in exchange for a coordinated effort against Hamas’ military build-up.
“The electricity system will be repaired, gas will be connected, a water desalination plan will be built, significant improvements to the health care system and a rebuilding of housing and transport infrastructure will take place. In exchange, Hamas will commit to long term quiet.
Lapid expressed hope that the international community would pressure Hamas to stop Hamas arming itself and work to strengthen efforts to prevent smuggling and an economic oversight mechanism will be put into place to prevent resources going to Hamas.
In the second phase, the presentation of “a practical and overarching plan to show what life in Gaza will look like if and when the military build-up stops, quiet is restored, and the economy for security framework is put into practice.”
Such a plan would include advancing the artificial island project off the coast of Gaza and construction of a port for the enclave. A transportation link between the Gaza Strip and Yehuda and Shomron would be thrown in.
International “investments will be managed by Donor Countries including the EU and United States, as well as the IMF and World Bank. They will be joined by the Gulf States, led by the United Arab Emirates.”
Lapid said that he’s held “a series of conversations with partners in the Arab world and western world who are looking at this proposal. With leaders in Egypt and the Gulf, with Secretary of State Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and with the European Union.”
As of Sunday evening, only the Religious Zionism party had responded to Lapid’s proposal. It said in a statement that “the proposed “reconstruction for disarmament” deal is acceptable only if disarmament comes first.”
The term “disarmament,” did not, however, appear in Lapid’s statement.