United States President Joe Biden has called for interim international-backed “security measures”—presumably foreign troops—in the Gaza Strip once the current Hamas-Israel war concludes, and he wants the Palestinian Authority (PA) to eventually rule Gaza once again. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, continues to highlight the PA-supported hate speech and other reasons why the Palestinian leadership cannot be the solution in Gaza after Hamas is taken down.
Despite this difference, Israel and the United States appear to be largely in agreement on the need to defeat Hamas before a true ceasefire can take place in Gaza. But once that goal is achieved, Netanyahu has serious concerns about the risk of terrorism coming from Gaza in the future. And those concerns include the allegedly moderate Palestinian Authority that Netanyahu notes is anything but moderate.
“I will not agree that any element enters there that supports terrorism, pays terrorists and their families, and educates their children to murder Jews and eliminate the State of Israel,” said Netanyahu on Saturday evening in comments published by Israel, highlighting ongoing problems with the PA.
“Without such a revolution in the future civil administration in Gaza, it would only be a question of time until the terrorism returns and I am not willing to agree to this.”
Washington has a different plan. In an Op-Ed that was unusually authored by President Biden himself in The Washington Post, the American leader called for the reunification of Gaza and the so-called “West Bank” (using the Arab term instead of Judea and Samaria) with the eventual leader being a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority. This governance structure existed prior to 2006, when the last democratic Palestinian elections put Hamas in power in the Palestinian legislature. A year later, Hamas ousted the PA from Gaza completely in a bloody coup and has ruled Gaza ever since.
In his Gaza reconstruction plan, Biden also called for the international community to provide “resources” to include “interim security measures.” The American envoy to the Middle East, Brett McGurk, issued a similar call at a security conference with Arab nations in Bahrain on Saturday. According to a transcript of his comments published to the website of the sponsoring International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), McGurk said, “We must prepare now to support the post-crisis phase in Gaza to include interim security resources as necessary within the paradigm that we have laid out.” He noted the plan is to lay the “foundation” ultimately for two states—an Israeli one and a Palestinian one that includes both Gaza and the “West Bank”.
McGurk spelled out some of the details of goals named by Biden for the aftermath of the Gaza war, including no occupation of Gaza by Israel, “no besiegement of Gaza”, and “no reduction” in Gaza’s defined territory. He called the Strip “Palestinian land”, although there is no history of the Palestinians having sovereignty of the territory until Israel withdrew in 2005. The comments about “besiegement” paralleled Biden’s opposition to a blockade of Gaza, presumably referencing Israel and Egypt’s blockade of Gaza aimed at preventing terrorists from obtaining weapons and other war materials.
Another goal named by Biden and McGurk would be that terror threats never come from Gaza or the “West Bank” again, although neither provided further specifics on how that would be achieved.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, has a very specific plan for preventing terrorism—the IDF. In his comments on Saturday, the Israeli leader said, “There is an additional condition that I set for the day after: The IDF will have complete freedom of action in the Gaza Strip against any threat. Only this way can we assure the demilitarization of Gaza.”
Meanwhile on Sunday, there was yet another example that raised questions about the PA’s ability to rule Gaza in peace. The Times of Israel reported the PA has been making a false claim that Israel killed its own civilians at the music festival on October 7 and faked at least some of the shocking media of Hamas’ terror massacre. In response, Netanyahu was outraged.
“Today, the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said something utterly preposterous. It denied that it was Hamas that carried out the horrible massacre at the nature festival near Gaza. It actually accused Israel of carrying out that massacre. This is a complete reversal of truth,” Netanyahu said in an Israeli press release.
[PA President Mahmoud Abbas], who in the past has denied the existence of the Holocaust, today is denying the existence of the Hamas massacre and that’s unacceptable.”
As part of his condemnation of the PA lies, Netanyahu added that his goal is a future Gaza government that “does not deny the massacre… and does not tell its children that their ultimate goal in life is to see the destruction and dissolution of the State of Israel. That’s not acceptable and that is not the way to achieve peace.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, November 19, 2023)