Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told senior cabinet ministers that a new initiative will soon be launched for a diplomatic solution in the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 news reported Friday.
Netanyahu reportedly said during private conversations that the efforts, led by Egypt and the United Nations and with Israel’s cooperation, have made significant progress.
A senior diplomatic official told the TV station: “Egypt and the UN are putting immense pressure on all sides. This is an unprecedented initiative, but it is still too early to say whether it will succeed. A lot is at stake.”
The plan was said to include rebuilding the enclave’s moribund civilian infrastructure, a return of the Palestinian Authority to the Strip and a long-term ceasefire.
A minister who is a member of the high-level security cabinet said Israel was willing to push a civil initiative in Gaza. “There is such an intention and hopefully Netanyahu will bring it before the cabinet for approval.”
Another senior minister told Channel 10 the ball was in the Palestinians’ court, and much depended on the Palestinian Authority’s willingness to reassert its responsibilities in Gaza and Hamas’s willingness to halt the violence.
“As long as that doesn’t happen there’s nothing to discuss. We want a solution in Gaza, but we won’t be pushovers.”
The Israeli cabinet continues to monitor the difficult humanitarian conditions in Gaza, Channel 10 reported. During last week’s cabinet meeting ministers were told that due to Washington’s cuts in aid to the UN’s refugee agency in Gaza, there are no funds to pay teachers when the next school year begins in September. That could increase tensions and lead to a further escalation of violence.
The security establishment is examining ways to circumvent the US restrictions on UNRWA, and has suggested other means by which funds could reach teachers and schools.
A report on Hadashot news claimed serious disagreements exist between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman over the correct Israeli response to events in Gaza, with the latter holding a more hawkish stance.