JERUSALEM — On the fifth anniversary of Israel’s civilian and military withdrawal from its Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has launched a trial balloon: another, more comprehensive, pullout from the Hamas-controlled enclave.
Lieberman’s idea includes a total severing of ties with Gaza, including cutting off electricity, water, commerce and, essentially, telling neighboring Egypt and the international community, “You’re welcome to take care of them.”
Lieberman, pitching the idea at a recent parley with European Union diplomats, said “we are really looking for a serious partner to improve the economic situation” for Gaza’s residents.
The idea includes closing down the existing Erez, Karni, Kissufim and Sufa border crossings with Israel, and increasing commerce and trade via the Rafah crossing with neighboring Egypt and sea links. Israel would rescind the three-year-old naval blockade, provided cargo ships first dock at Cypriot or Greece ports for inspection of cargo to ensure no war materiel was delivered into Gaza.
The idea also calls for installing military forces along the Palestinian side of the border, facing similar Israeli forces in order to foil attacks, infiltrations and weapons smuggling across the line with the Jewish State.
However, “we had bad experiences with the Europeans,” sources close to Lieberman told Xinhua this week, referring to a failed try in 2005 by European Union observers to police the Rafah crossing.
SENTINEL FOUNDER PAT MURPHY