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Europe Seeks Role in Postwar Gaza

MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP

Aleteia - published on 08/27/14 - updated on 06/07/17

At the minimum, an international presence in Gaza would require Hamas to allow Abbas’ forces to help operate the border crossings — something it has expressed a willingness to do.

But it would also step up pressure on Hamas to give up its military capabilities, such as the network of tunnels used to smuggle weapons and stage attacks on Israel.

In Gaza, Hamad al-Rakeb, a Hamas spokesman, described Hollande’s proposal as "mixing poison in the honey."

Riyad Mansour, Abbas’ ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday welcomed the idea of international monitors as a "useful deterrent" to more fighting. He acknowledged, however, that disarming Hamas is "not realistic."

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Thursday that international aid must be conditioned on Hamas disarming. During the war, Hamas fired thousands of rockets and mortars into Israel.

"They want to rehabilitate Gaza, they need to understand that they will have to disarm. Residents of the south cannot continue to live this way," Lapid said.

Donor nations are scheduled to meet in October for a conference on funding reconstruction of Gaza, with the expectation that hundreds of millions of dollars in aid will be channeled through Abbas.

Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli deputy foreign minister, said Europe’s readiness to help could prove vital in reopening Gaza’s borders and returning Abbas’ government to power there. He said while demilitarization would be difficult, it would be impossible without international pressure.

"If all the parties support it, and there is no reason for Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to reject it, how can Hamas really reject it? Only by violence," he said. "It’s difficult to understand them, but it is unlikely that they will turn against the Europeans now."

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