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  Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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Residents in the Gaza Strip should not count on economic normalization
Residents in the Gaza Strip should not count on economic normalization and the lifting of blockades as long as Hamas is in power, Israel's foreign minister told Russian news agencies on Wednesday.

The Islamist Hamas movement that controls Gaza has said it would cease fire if Israel opens the border crossings and removes the economic import and export blockades on the Palestinian enclave.

"As long as Hamas is in power, the situation in Gaza will not be normalized," Tzipi Livni said. "They are not a legitimate government and Israel will neither work with them nor recognize them."

The foreign minister emphasized that Israel is ready to allow humanitarian aid to the 1.5 million civilians in the enclave, but they should "not expect a greater supply of electricity, water, fuel, food or medical supplies" than they are getting now.

"Since we are not punishing the residents, but are acting against terrorism, we will continue to facilitate humanitarian aid [into the region]," she said. "As long as Hamas controls the Gaza Strip and is not ready to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, as well as stopping terrorism, I don't see the same economic situation there that Israel gives to the West Bank, where we are cooperating with the Palestinian government."

Residents in Gaza have been able to soften the Israeli blockades by smuggling goods from Egypt, but the Israeli assault has targeted cross-border tunnels to cut down on the illegal trafficking of goods.

"As far as the border crossings are concerned, the Hamas movement has not only affected border crossings with Israel, but also the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt," Livni said. "We are continuing our work there in line with the agreement reached in 2005, which allows for the existence of a legitimate Palestinian administration, but not Hamas."

When Israel withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza, it retained the right to involvement in setting mode of the operation of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, and since Hamas came to power, the border has only been opened temporarily for humanitarian purposes.


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