The first order that Avigdor Lieberman gave when he entered the Army Ministry in Tel Aviv, was to complete an operative plan to defeat Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Israel Pulse news site reported.
Lieberman expressed disbelief that no such Israel Defense Forces (IDF) plan was elaborated. The policy advocated by his predecessor Moshe Ya’alon did not aim to defeat Hamas, overthrow its government or reoccupy Gaza. Instead, Ya’alon supported a policy of “containing” Gaza (adjusting to the existing reality), isolating Hamas and postponing the next conflict for as long as possible. All of this was based on the assumption that right now, there is no rational alternative to Hamas, and that Israel should not involve itself in changing the regime in any neighboring Arab state or entity. Liberman arrived with a very different approach, shaking up the entire system.
Israel’s new Army Minister Avigdor Lieberman asked Israeli senior officers to draft a military plan to topple Hamas rule in Gaza, commentator Ben Caspit wrote. “Lieberman does believe that the Gaza Strip is ready to overthrow Hamas,” said Caspit.
“The group’s standing among the general population is being challenged, and quite a few of the local clans and tribes are already seeking an alternative.” “Lieberman believes that Hamas is the ultimate evil. As such, its regime must be brought down, and its growing stock of rockets, within touching distance of the southern city of Ashkelon, must be eliminated,”
According to the same source, the army minister believes that if Israel doesn’t do that now, within just a few years it will have another Hezbollah on its hands. “That is why Lieberman has instructed the Israeli (occupation) forces to prepare an operational plan to defeat and overthrow Hamas in the next round of fighting,” Caspit further noted.
When it comes to Judea and Samaria, Liberman’s position is different from that of the defense establishment. Given this, he is expected to get into quite a few conflicts with the General Staff and the Shin Bet. For one thing, Liberman believes that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is Israel’s worst enemy and that Israel should strive to end his rule. He considers Abbas’ diplomatic offensive against Israel to be particularly serious, in fact, no less serious than a military offensive.
Here, too, Lieberman doesn’t really know what “the day after Abbas” will look like.
Like many others in the security establishment, he believes that there is no single successor to fulfill all of Abbas’ three roles: head of Fatah, head of the PLO and head of the Palestinian Authority. These three positions will most likely be divided among three claimants to the succession, and the West Bank government will be less centralized. Be that as it may, he does not believe that there will be chaos. He rejects warnings of those prophets of rage, who claim that Israel will be forced to run the Palestinians’ day-to-day life and tend to matters such as health, welfare, infrastructures, education, etc. According to Liberman, there is absolutely no basis for that prognosis.
Israel’s defense establishment has already identified quite a few senior Palestinian officials, who could fill Abbas’ positions. The names of people like Yasser Arafat’s nephew Nasser al-Qudwa or head of Palestinian intelligence Majid Faraj have been bandied about in various scenarios.
Liberman believes that Abbas has completed his historic role and that it is now time for him to go. There is no chance of reaching any type of arrangement with him. If he didn’t say “yes” to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s exaggerated plans in 2008 (according to Liberman), he will certainly be incapable of saying yes to anything else. For that reason alone, Liberman thinks, Abbas’ continued presence (or attempts to negotiate with him) is nothing but a hindrance.