In the article, "Europe’s Irresponsible Gaza Policy", Liberman discusses the European Union’s approach to Gaza and explains how the EU confuses the source of the current problem with one of its symptoms.
(Communicated by the Bureau of Foreign Minister Liberman)
On January 11, 2011, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Avigdor Liberman titled, "Europe’s Irresponsible Gaza Policy". In the article, Liberman discusses the European Union’s approach to Gaza and explains how the EU "confuses the source of the current problem with one of its symptoms." He uses as an example the European Union’s recent "Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process" which called for an, "immediate, sustained and unconditional opening of (the Gaza) crossings." Minister Liberman refers to this demand as "irresponsible, immoral and unjustified."
Minister Liberman provides examples of how the Europeans can help ameliorate the situation: "As existing and previous attempts to stanch the smuggling have clearly failed, a different approach needs to be considered. If the EU wishes to genuinely address the source of the problem, it should contemplate stationing an effective European or international force along the Philadelphi Corridor and at the Rafiah Crossing, the Egyptian-Gaza border areas under which most of the tunnels for weapons smuggling into Gaza have been built. To elicit a change in the situation, such a force would have to be robust in both operational capabilities and mandate and willing to confront Hamas. We cannot allow a return to the ineffective EUBAM mission, which unilaterally vacated its positions at the Rafiah Crossing upon Hamas’s seizure of power in Gaza.
"I can affirm that a cessation of the smuggling will lead to the lifting of restrictions. However, the State of Israel cannot be expected to forgo its fundamental security interests without the removal of this grave threat and the ongoing assault against Israeli towns that it continues to fuel."
Minister Liberman compares the situation in Gaza to Judea and Samaria and notes how the economic progress there could serve as a good model for Gaza. "Economic growth and the consistent rise in the standard of living among the inhabitants of Judea and Samaria are living proof of fruitful cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority," Minister Liberman writes. "With improvements in the security situation in Judea and Samaria, Israel relaxed the security measures and enhanced the mobility of the Palestinian population. Over the past year, more than two-thirds of the road-blocks have been removed. The Palestinians made the most of these new conditions. Their economy is booming and tourism to the area has witnessed a dramatic increase. This basic pattern can serve as a model for Gaza."
In conclusion, Minister Liberman notes the steps the Israeli government has recently taken with respect to the Gaza civilian population and suggests: "I believe that close coordination between the EU and Israel can bring about a greater change in Gaza, both with respect to the regime in control and with respect to the standard of living. Such coordination will have to include an effective response to the weapons smuggling and a steadfast stance against Hamas and other terrorist organizations."