Netanyahu Rejects U.S. Plans for Post-War Gaza With His Own Vision

Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has finally revealed what Israel intends to do with Gaza after the war in the enclave ends, with his plans standing in stark contrast to the hopes for the region expressed by the U.S. government.

The one-page document was presented to Netanyahu’s war cabinet on Thursday before being released by his office. In it, the Israeli leader repeated his rejection of Western nations moving toward unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, and the proposals don’t specify any role whatsoever for the Palestinian Authority—the West Bank-based governmental body that the Biden administration wants to eventually take control of Gaza.

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The plans also call for a security buffer zone inside the Strip, a measure Washington, D.C. says it would oppose.

Netanyahu’s document makes clear that Israel would retain security control over all territory west of Jordan, Reuters reports, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza, in contradiction of Palestinian hopes for the creation of an independent state.

It also lists deradicalization and demilitarization as medium-term goals for the enclave, with the rehabilitation of Gaza only beginning after Israel’s complete victory over Hamas and other militants currently engaged in the conflict. A “Southern Closure” would also be established on Gaza’s border with Egypt in an effort to stop smuggling.

Netanyahu said the U.N. Palestinian refugees agency, UNRWA, should be shut down and replaced with other international aid organizations. Israel earlier this year accused 12 employees of the U.N. organization of being involved in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks and claimed that around 10 percent of its staff were linked with the militant group.

The Hamas attacks led to the deaths of 1,200 people and another 250 were kidnapped, according to Israeli figures. The war Israel launched in response has so far killed more than 29,500 people in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials, and the majority of the enclave’s population has now been displaced. Most of those killed are women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

A spokesperson for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, said Netanyahu’s plan was doomed to fail. “If the world is genuinely interested in having security and stability in the region, it must end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and [recognize] an independent Palestinian state,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh said.

Israel retaining military control in Gaza will indefinitely postpone the creation of such a state, although the document does not expressly rule it out as a possibility. On Wednesday, Israeli lawmakers backed Netanyahu’s rejection of any unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, a symbolic gesture that the prime minister hailed as a refusal to accept “the attempt to impose on us the establishment of a Palestinian state, which would not only fail to bring peace but would endanger the state of Israel.”

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