Gaza Disengagement was a mistake, Israeli Opposition Leader admits

‘There is no debate’ that the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was a mistake, says Yair Lapid, while arguing that the Palestinian Authority should have ‘a role’ in post-war Gaza.

By David Rosenberg, World Israel News

Israeli Opposition Leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Tuesday that Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 was a mistake, while offering his view on how the post-war coastal enclave should be governed.

Speaking with Radio 103FM Tuesday morning, the former premier slammed the Netanyahu government over the apparent absence of a plan for the future of the Gaza Strip once the current war with Hamas is completed.

“Unlike the government,” said Lapid, “I published a plan for the day after: the conditions for completing stage one, the conditions for completing stage two – everything was very organized.”

Lapid has previously said that the Palestinian Authority should “be part” of the administration of the post-war Gaza Strip, but only after it has gone “through a de-radicalization process.”

In the interview Tuesday morning, Lapid again said the Palestinian Authority should be involved in governing Gaza, without precisely defining the parameters of Ramallah’s role.

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“What I said was complicated, because it’s a complicated situation, and I don’t believe in people who offer simple, one-sentence solutions to complicated situations.”

“The Palestinian Authority should be one component of the civilian apparatus that will manage the Strip on the day after.”

Lapid took aim at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his repeated declarations that Israel will not turn over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority, calling the suggestion a strawman.

“There is something strange that Netanyahu goes around and holds press conferences and says, ‘We will not hand over Gaza to Abu Mazen’s rule.’ No one suggested that.”

“Israel will maintain control over its security, we will not trust anyone.”

“The Palestinian Authority has a civilian operation inside Gaza. It would be stupid not to use such an infrastructure, and they’re not identified with Hamas.”

“They should be a part in [a future administration] because without such a component, it wouldn’t be possible to bring in the Saudis, or other Arab countries.”

Lapid emphasized, however, that Turkey and Qatar, both of which host Hamas leaders, should be excluded from wielding influence in Gaza.

“I don’t think Qatar and Turkey should be involved. They are hostile countries today.”

The former premier acknowledged that the August 2005 Disengagement Plan, under which Israel unilaterally evacuated all of its civilian communities and armed forces from the Gaza Strip and parts of northern Samaria, was a mistake.

“Today there is no debate, the Disengagement should not have been done without reaching some kind of agreement. Now you have to reach a situation where you are building something together with the moderate Arab countries. The US should lead.”