“Protective Edge not Over”…Yair Lapid

September 1, 2014 by J-Wire
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Israel’s Finance Minister and Security Cabinet Member Yair Lapid has told an international media press conference that  Operation Protective Edge is not over.

Yair Lapid

Yair Lapid

The Minister said in a prepared statement: “We are now almost a week into the current ceasefire but Operation Protective Edge is not over. The ceasefire is only the beginning of the next stage of the operation, the diplomatic stage that must lead to the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

The only measure is our ability to achieve long term quiet for the residents of southern Israel. We had major military achievements and have now moved to the diplomatic front.

We fought a long and complex operation against a terrorist organization with no regard for human life. We fought an enemy with a value system opposed to our own, we sanctify life and they sanctify death. Hamas wanted to kill our children and was willing to see their own children killed in a sick attempt at propaganda. That is a difficult concept to understand and an impossible one to accept.

Hamas knows the price they have paid and they know the price they will pay if they start firing again. We destroyed over 30 tunnels which took Hamas years to build. Tunnels which were meant to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians.

We destroyed rocket launchers, production facilities and terror infrastructure. We targeted and eliminated hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists including senior leaders. Hamas failed to surprise the IDF which was ready for them on land, air and sea.

On the Home Front the Israeli people showed their strength and resilience despite the painful losses, in particular of an innocent four year old boy whose whole life was in front of him.

Hamas and all those who threaten us believe that they will break Israeli society and drive us out if they can make life difficult enough. But they don’t understand the strength of Israeli society, they don’t understand our commitment to our home.

Leadership is measured by an ability to provide hope, set out a vision and deliver it. We cannot, and will not, allow a situation whereby this ceasefire is the beginning of the countdown to the next round of fire.

If we don’t take the diplomatic initiative that is what will happen.

On the 22nd September the donor countries are scheduled to meet in New York. At that conference the countries of the world will commit aid to rebuild and rehabilitate Gaza. Israel must act before that to avoid a conference where Gaza gets support and Israel gets nothing.

We need a regional conference, with the Egyptians, the Saudi’s, the Gulf States and of course the representatives of the Quartet. That conference should focus on one thing, ensuring the rehabilitation takes place alongside demilitarization.

During the operation European and American leaders called for the demilitarization of Gaza and now we need to work with them, and with the Arab world, to make that a reality.

We must return the Palestinian Authority to the border crossings, where they belong. We must ensure Hamas does not re-arm. We must ensure that the framework is put in place for a sustainable and long term solution.

The success of a regional conference can also provide the framework for a wider diplomatic horizon which will take advantage of the changes in the region to the mutual benefit of Israel and the Arab world.

The threat of terror is a common threat to the entire western world.

As the Islamic State continues to march through Iraq and Syria, the world understands that we face an ideology committed to death and destruction. An ideology of brutality towards non-Muslims and towards anyone they see as the wrong type of Muslim. That is Hamas as well. A group which glorifies the death of children. A group which carries out cold blooded executions in the street.

We watch the Islamic State and we have no doubt that we must hit Hamas hard so they never get the opportunity to do what the Islamic State is doing in Iraq and Syria.

The end of the military stage also brings with it the bill. 50 days of fighting in the air, on land and by sea is an expensive matter. The IDF needs to restock and we will not spare one shekel when it comes to the security of the citizens of Israel.

Now we must support the communities around the Gaza Strip and throughout the south. They need to rebuild their lives and rebuild their homes. It is our responsibility to help them and that is what we are working towards.

Despite the financial burden we will be able to bear most of the cost of the operation within the 2014 budget. Israel’s economy is strong and it is robust. Our currency is strong. Investments are still strong.

We expect a small decrease in growth as a result of the operation, particularly due to the impact on tourism, but experience shows us that the growth will return, and it will return quickly and strongly as happened after previous campaigns.

This is also the time to say to the world, come visit Israel, come and invest in Israel. The most Zionist act the Jewish community around the world can do today is to book a holiday and come spend the High Holy Days in Israel.

Before I take questions I want to end by saying this – Israel is strong. Our military is strong. Our economy is strong. Our society is strong. We paid a heavy price during this operation and now we have a responsibility to make sure that the benefits for the people of Israel are real and long lasting.

The Q&A session is on the video below:

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