“The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should go along with the demilitarization of Gaza; otherwise we can see the next round in no time.”
President Reuven Rivlin met Sunday morning with Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende at the President’s residence in Jerusalem for a work meeting during which he thanked the Norwegian emissary for his concern for Israel during Operation Protective Edge.
“I would like to welcome you once again to our state and to the region. We appreciate very much your concern and your idea to come to us once again, and the appreciation goes with the understanding that you are very much worried about the situation with the people of Gaza,” Rivlin stated.
Warns of Hamas Misappropriation of Humanitarian Funds
Discussing the current affairs developing in the wake of the recent operation in Gaza, the Israeli president said: “The reconstruction of Gaza is one of our interests as much as it is of all the Free World. The rehabilitation and reconstruction of Gaza should go along with the demilitarization of Gaza; otherwise we can see the next round in no time.”
Rivlin explained that without demilitarization of the terrorist organization, Hamas will take all the money given to them by the international community for reconstruction “and will put it into military aims and the ability to attack Israel once again. We can come to a dead-end once again and we could find ourselves in a very, very serious situation.”
Hamas took a large segment of the support and relief provided to Gaza after Operation Cast Lead in 2008 – a previous war of defense against Hamas rockets, followed by Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012 – and invested it in the development of terror infrastructure and terror tunnels rather than in the rehabilitation of the civilian structure hit during the fighting, for which it had been designated.
“I very much appreciate the idea that you are trying to help all those people who need humanitarian help,” the president told Brende.
‘We Must Fight the Extremism in the Middle East’
The Norwegian foreign minister thanked Rivlin, saying, “I know that this has been a very difficult summer for Israel. I was here in July and I saw this. It has been tough on Israel and tough on the Palestinian people.”
During his visit in July Brende experienced a rocket attack by Hamas and was forced to run to a bomb shelter while touring Ashkelon with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Regarding the ceasefire negotiations under way between Israel and Hamas, Brende stated: “We cannot discuss the Israel and Palestinian situations without looking at it in a broader context,” referring to the Islamic State (IS) and the situation in Iraq. Brende had visited Baghdad and listened to first-hand accounts of the atrocities committed by IS.
“I heard there some of the most tragic and terrible stories I have ever heard. We hope we can help with solving the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but in a broader context we must fight the extremism in the Middle East,” Brende said.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel