Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared that Israel will assume “overall security” in Gaza for an “indefinite period” after the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
In an exclusive interview on ABC News, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir asked Netanyahu who should govern the territory after the war. “I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, have the overall security responsibility [in Gaza] because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it. When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine,” Netanyahu said. (Related: Breitbart editor Joel Pollak: Israel ‘should wipe out Gaza’ and the U.S. should take the refugees.)
However, the statement contradicts the previous words of senior Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Last month, Gallant suggested that the final phase of the war would be to sever “Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip” and establish a “new security reality for the citizens of Israel.” Gallant even hinted at the possibility of involving a third party in post-conflict governance.
U.S. and Palestinian officials warn Israel against reoccupying Gaza
In a recent interview with CBS, President Joe Biden also rejected the prolonged occupation in Gaza, even though it supports the military operations of Israel against Hamas.
“It would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again. But going in and taking out the extremists – the Hezbollah up north and the Hamas down south – is a necessary requirement,” Biden said.
Likewise, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel against the reoccupation of Gaza after the war due to the risks associated with the Oct. 7 attacks.
During a recent Tokyo meeting attended by Blinken, foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) nations supported “humanitarian pauses and corridors” but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. Blinken then outlined the vision of the Biden administration for post-conflict Gaza, emphasizing key elements such as no forced displacement of Palestinians, no use of Gaza for terrorism and no reoccupation.
“The United States believes key elements should include no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza – not now, not after the war. We must also ensure no terrorist threats can emanate from the West Bank. It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority. And it must include a sustained mechanism for reconstruction in Gaza, and a pathway to Israelis and Palestinians living side-by-side in states of their own, with equal measures of security, freedom, opportunity and dignity,” Blinken said.
When asked about Netanyahu’s comments on the “overall security responsibility” in Gaza, Blinken acknowledged the need for a “transition period at the end of the conflict,” but he confidently said Israel did not intend to reoccupy and govern Gaza.
Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer also clarified to the BBC what Netanyahu meant by “security responsibility.”
“Governance requires an administration we assume will be Palestinian. There’s a question of the overriding security responsibility—that’s what he was talking about—to ensure that in a post-Hamas Gaza, we don’t have the re-emergence of a terror threat from Gaza. Israel wasn’t operating or doing any operations in Gaza, and we saw what happened over nearly two decades. They built this terror state right in the south of Israel and we saw the effects of this,” Dermer explained.
Mustafa Barghouti, head of the Palestinian National Initiative, echoed the statement. He said Palestinians needed a unified leadership that “could prepare the ground for free democratic elections and end the occupation, not only of Gaza Strip but also of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”
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