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Interview: MK Steinitz: time to use force to prevent formation of Hamas government

Aaron Lerner Date: 20 February 2006

IMRA interviewed Likud MK Dr. Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Knesset
Foreign Affairs & Defense Committee, in Hebrew, on 19 February 2006:

Q: After the victory of Hamas in the recent PLC elections, acting PM Olmert
still intends to carry out major unilateral withdrawals from Judea and
Samaria. How do you feel about the idea?

A: I think that the policies of Olmert will endanger – if they are
implemented – the survival of the State of Israel.

A substantial unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would mean a
Hamas-Iran threat with Qassam rockets, anti-aircraft missile and brigades of
revolutionary guards formed in the territories .

A threat not on Sderot but on Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport, Jerusalem and
what is between them.

And that is no longer a matter of a threat of terror but instead an
existential threat on the very ability of the State of Israel to defend
itself and its existence in the Middle East.

Q: Even if the fences are completed?

A: Fences provide protection against lone terrorists or a terrorist cell.
They do not protect against a popular army, they do not protect against
artillery, thy do not protect against Qassam rockets and they do not provide
protection against anti-aircraft missiles that will be fired against planes
landing at the Ben Gurion Airport – attacks that would shut down air
transportation in Israel and cut off Israel from the world.

Q: What should Israel do about Hamas?

A: There are two alternatives.:

One is to unilaterally withdraw from for the area of the West Bank and
disengage And I, who happen to have supported the disengagement from Gaza,
before the rise of Hamas, and the taking of a risk in the South, tell you
that it would be a mistake that could bring a real existential threat to
Israel with the formation of a Hams army under Iranian influence with
Iranian advisors and Iranian weapons facing the greater Tele Aviv area and
Ben Gurion Airport.

This is Olmert’s policy.

And there is our policy that is the opposite that says that we cannot even
allow them to form a government. We can put a siege on the cities of the
West Bank in order to prevent the members of Hamas from leaving their cities
in order to run the Palestinian Authority.

We can also prohibit the carrying of weapons by the Palestinian police in
the territories the moment that it turns – and it is already turning – into
a police force under Hamas; influence.

We can thus not allow even the formation of a Hamas government and the
formation of a Hamas regime in Judea and Samaria.

This is the only way to stop the creation of this huge threat to State of

Q With regard to the situation between Gaza and Egypt – this is “spilled

A: This is spilled milk. Our defense minister tells us that there is an
agreement covering the Rafah Passage. It turns out that there isn’t an
agreement. There is a draft that isn’t even a final version and the
Palestinians aren’t even honoring this draft. They also never signed it and
also do not feel obligated to honor it. Terrorists, Hamas members and
apparently also members of world Jihad and weapons move freely through the

This is spilled milk.

But we must not repeat the mistake we made in Gaza also in Judea and

It is bad enough that today we are suffering from the threat of Qassams in
Sderot and Ashkelon – we must not allow the same threat at Ben Gurion
Airport, Jerusalem, Petach Tikvah and the heart of the country.

With all the good intentions that Olmert – as any man – certainly has – his
lack of experience is very bad.

Olmert simply is weak against Hamas. Hamas is having a great time with
Olmert. Hamas couldn’t have hoped for a “better” government to be ruling at
the time of its victory.

This is a government that is giving Hamas time. A chance to prove itself.
And in the meantime Hamas can establish its rule and I tell you what the
results will be:

Within hours or days of the formation of a Hamas government the Arab League
will recognize it. They will enter into official defense pacts with Iran
and maybe also Syria and maybe even with Egypt. And after that it will be
much harder to deal with the terror government that is under Iranian

This is not the time for foot dragging. It is not a time for zigzags.

It is time to use force to prevent the formation of a Hamas government and
the formation of a Palestinian-Hamas revolutionary guard under Iranian
influence in the territories.

Dr. Aaron Lerner, Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
(Mail POB 982 Kfar Sava)
Tel 972-9-7604719/Fax 972-3-7255730

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