Photo Credit: Shlomi Amsalem / GPO
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in Washington with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, Oct. 12, 2021

Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid discussed the threat from Iran, and a plan for Gaza containing reworked points from the Netanyahu government in his meeting Tuesday in Washington DC with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Lapid shared with Sullivan Israel’s concern about Iran’s race towards nuclear capability, and the fact that Iran is becoming a nuclear threshold state, according to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.

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Lapid also discussed with the US national security adviser the need for an alternative plan to the Iran nuclear agreement.

In addition, the two men discussed a plan for the Gaza Strip – “Economy for Security” – presented by the Israeli minister. Lapid has been promoting the plan, which calls for Israel to improve life in Gaza if Hamas lays down its arms as a way to put pressure on Hamas, for weeks.

In his remarks last month to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism Conference at Reichman University, Lapid said, “We need to start a large, multiyear process of economy for security.

“We need to tell Gazans at every opportunity: Hamas is leading you to ruin. No one will come and invest real money, and no one will try to build an economy in a place from where Hamas fires and that Israel strikes on a regular basis.”

He added that the plan is a way to end the “absurd situation” in which an antisemitic terrorist organization attacks Israeli civilians and Israel is blamed for it.

Stage 1 of the plan calls for rebuilding Gaza in exchange for an effort, coordinated with the international community, to stop Hamas’s military buildup.

“The electricity system will be repaired, gas will be connected, a water desalination plant will be built, significant improvements to the healthcare system and a rebuilding of housing and transportation infrastructure will take place,” he said. “In exchange, Hamas will commit to long-term quiet.”

The international community will be asked to lean on Hamas to ensure the quiet and stop the terrorist group from rearming. An oversight mechanism — without which Israel will allow no investment in the enclave — would be put in place to stop humanitarian funds from getting to the terrorist group, which threatens Israeli civilians.

Israel would maintain control of electricity and water in Gaza during this stage, and only long-term positive results would yield energy independence.

The Palestinian Authority would return to its role in controlling the land crossings into Gaza, with the exception of the crossing in Rafah, which leads to Egypt. Cairo’s cooperation is essential in the process, Lapid said.

If Hamas meets the benchmarks and Stage 1 is a success, Stage 2 would commence with construction of an artificial island port off the coast and a transportation link with the Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, a proposal first created and presented by then-Transportation Minister Israel Katz during the Netanyahu years.

The plan also calls for promotion of economic projects with Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority — including industrial zones near the Erez crossing — with international investment from the EU, US, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Arab Emirates.

The Palestinian Authority would be responsible for the civil management of the Gaza Strip.

That final point — proposed in past years and by the previous Netanyahu governments — has proven repeatedly to be a non-starter for Hamas, as has any suggestion that Hamas give up its weapons.

It is likely that these two points alone will torpedo the plan before it ever gets off the ground, US and international efforts notwithstanding.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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