The cabinet decision to scale back the civilian blockade on Gaza while tightening the security blockade enables Israel to focus on real security issues, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday in an address to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
“The cabinet decision is the best one for Israel, because it eliminates Hamas’ main propaganda claim and allows us and our international allies to face our real concerns in the realm of security,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu said the decision to ease the siege was coordinated with the United States and Quartet representative Tony Blair.
The prime minister also addressed Iran, claiming the republic is trying to maintain a stranglehold on Israel from all sides, “with Hezbollah from the North and Hamas from the south” and said Israel would continue to defend itself and prevent these groups from arming themselves.
Netanyahu went on to say that he inherited the Gaza blockade from the former government, which opposition leader Tzipi Livni denied.
“You received from the former government international support, effective diplomatic negotiations and a political situation that de-legitimized Hamas,” Livni said.
“There was a strategy and direction,” Livni continued. “Today Hamas is legitimized at the expense of Israel.”
Netanyahu also claimed he requested an investigation in easing the blockade in mid-2009.
Regarding the Lebanese flotilla expected to set sail to Gaza, Netanyahu said Israel will stand up to the ships, which he said are supported by the regime of Iran’s ayatollahs.
“Hezbollah is responsible for the Lebanese flotilla, despite their efforts to conceal that,” said Netanyahu, adding the one of the flotilla’s organizers met recently with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
“We must understand that this is an effort by Iran and Hezbollah to break the naval and security blockade of Hamas,” said Netanyahu.
In light of this, he told the committee, the cabinet decision to ease the siege benefits Israel. “It gives us legitimacy among our friends in the world to tighten the security blockade,” said Netanyahu. “This decision will not prevent future flotillas, but it certainly destroys the basis of their propaganda against Israel.”
This story "Bibi: Decision To Ease Gaza Blockade Weakens Hamas" was written by Jonathan Lis (Haaretz).