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Israeli president: We will lift the siege of Gaza only after demilitarising the Strip

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Monday that lifting the Israeli siege of the Gaza Strip could only take place after dismantling Hamas’s resistance capabilities, responding to comments made by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon blaming “the occupation” for the war in Gaza.

According to Israel’s right-wing Channel 7 news, Ki-moon “sparked fury from the Israeli public and political machine on Sunday, after he called ‘the occupation’ in Gaza the ‘root cause’ of Israel’s [military] operation over the summer”.

In response, the Israeli president reportedly said that: “The lifting of the restrictions can only take place after the Palestinian leadership, and the international community, find a way to dismantle the terrorist capabilities of Hamas, and ensure that Israeli citizens will be able to live in safety.”

Rivlin added that: “The rehabilitation of Gaza is an Israeli interest as much as a Palestinian one.”

However, he also reiterated that “Israel cannot tolerate a situation, in which Hamas is targeting Israeli civilians, and expanding its terrorist capabilities and infrastructure.”

Most Palestinians expressed popular support for Hamas during Israel’s latest war in the Gaza Strip, viewing the movement as a force of resistance against Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.

Regarding the stalled peace talks, Rivlin said that peace is an important issue because it is the only way to guarantee the rights of the Palestinians, “as well as Israel’s security”.

Anadolu news agency reported that Hamas and the Palestinian parties have been refusing to put the issue of disarming the resistance on the table at the indirect negotiations.

Ki-moon arrived in Jerusalem after a donors meeting for Gaza, which took place in Cairo on Sunday. The donors pledged to contribute $5.4 billion for the reconstruction of the war-torn Strip.

The UN chief urged leaders on both sides “to find a way to peace” and called for a quick resolution to the “pressing issues of Gaza’s reconstruction”.

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