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Lieberman promises Gaza ports in exchange for captive soldiers

Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and Defense Minister in Israel [File photo]
Avigdor Lieberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and Defence Minister in Israel [File photo]

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said yesterday that his government is willing to allow the Palestinians to have a seaport and airport in Gaza, as well as industrial areas and the creation of 40,000 jobs in the enclave. The right-wing minister set a number of conditions for this, including the return of two Israeli soldiers being held captive by Hamas.

According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Lieberman said that the Israeli government would allow this progress with the additional conditions that Hamas removes an article in its charter calling for the annihilation of the state; that the movement is demilitarised; and Israeli civilians also alleged to be held by Hamas are released.

Read: Israel sees ‘hawkish’ trend in new Hamas leader in Gaza

“There is no reason for the residents of Gaza to live in the 21st century under lesser conditions than in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank] or in the Arab world,” said Lieberman. No details were provided of the context of his statements.

In early April 2016, the Hamas military wing — Al-Qassam Brigades — revealed for the first time that it had captured four Israeli soldiers without officially stating whether they were dead or alive. The Israeli army had announced in the past that the bodies of two soldiers were missing during its war on Gaza from 8 July to 26 August 2014. The soldiers were named as Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin.

Furthermore, Tel Aviv has also reported that two other Israelis are missing: one is of Ethiopian origin and the other of Arab origin; both apparently entered Gaza illegally.

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