“It is time to transfer the pressure to Hamas,” Yair Lapid said, stressing that Gazans must oust the terror group “because they understand what they are losing…”
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
In a speech at Reichman University’s Counter-Terrorism Institute on Sunday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid reiterated that Qatari funding for Gaza would soon need to happen via an alternative method which ensures that money does not fall into the hands of terror groups.
“Israel will not award prizes to a radical terrorist organization,” Lapid said, referring to Hamas, which rules the Strip.
He emphasized Israel’s partnership with the Palestinian Authority, saying that the Jewish State views the PA as “the representative body of the Palestinians.”
“Israel [will not engage with] terrorist organizations that want to destroy it.”
“The Gazans must be told in every way and on every stage – Hamas is leading you to doom. No one will come to invest real money and no one will try to build an economy where Hamas is firing,” he added.
“It is time to transfer the pressure to Hamas,” he said, stressing that Gazans must oust the terror group “because they understand what they are losing from the ongoing terrorism and understand what they have to gain if it stops.”
Lapid remarks were presented as part of a plan to combat Hamas in Gaza through economic and diplomatic means, rejecting the assumption that Israel only has two options for Gaza – reconquering it completely or waging periodic military operations against terror groups. “Those are two bad options,” he said. “That’s not a reality we can accept.”
Lapid argued that by appealing to Gaza residents and making it clear that no money will reach the Strip as long as Hamas uses it to launch rockets toward Israel, will eventually limit the terrorist organization and gradually take away its power.
Lapid noted that the process would take years and would need to be supported by the IDF at times.
His remarks were given shortly before a rocket was launched from Gaza toward Israel for the third consecutive day.
Also addressing the issue, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s office released a statement stressing that the days in which Qatari suitcases full of cash were freely transferred into the Gaza Strip were over.
Bennett’s statement appeared to be in response to reports on Israeli media that suggested that the prime minister was considering renewing the system of Qatari cash suitcases being allowed into Gaza.
The statement was made just a day before the agreed compromise for allowing Qatari aid into Gaza via the UN is set to begin.
“Tomorrow [Monday], some vulnerable families in #Gaza, out of the nearly 100,000 beneficiaries, will begin to receive their aid as part of the #UN’s Humanitarian Cash Assistance programme, supported by the State of #Qatar,” UNSCO tweeted Sunday.
“Eligible families will continue to receive notifications over the coming days informing them of their enrollment and when they will receive their assistance. This comes in addition to ongoing aid to needy people in #Gaza implemented by #UN agencies.”
“The Qatari grant to the needy in the Gaza Strip was organized by the UN, with the grant transferred in vouchers [for families] and not suitcases of cash as in the past,” the premier’s office said in a statement, adding that Israeli authorities are “examining various alternatives” for future Qatari aid.
“When an appropriate plan is found that ensures the money won’t go to terrorist activities, it will be presented by the defense minister to the prime minister. The previous plan will not return. The prime minister will decide his position after the possibilities are presented to him.”
While the statement did not elaborate as to what the alternative funding method would look like, other government officials said that Israel was avoiding direct contact or coordination with Gaza-based terror groups.
Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.