Reoccupation Of Gaza? A Crack Opens In The Airtight Israel-U.S. Alliance
Prime Minister Netanyahu's mention of "indefinite" control of security in Gaza does not sit well with Washington. Biden has a growing number of reasons to start pushing back against Israel's war and post-war aims.
PARIS — The war in Gaza is not about to end, but the question of the "aftermath" is already at hand. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked this question by ABC News, and his answer came as a surprise: Israel will assume "overall security responsibility" in the Gaza Strip for an indefinite period.
On its face, this could mean a de facto re-occupation of the Palestinian enclave. Yet this is not Israel's official war aim, which is to eradicate the Islamist movement Hamas, nor is it what the Israeli Defense Minister implied when he said, on the contrary, that the Jewish State wanted nothing more to do with Gaza.
The issue is all the more delicate in that it is likely to give rise to differences with the United States, Israel's main supporter. "We do not support a reoccupation of Gaza", was the reaction of the U.S. State Department on Tuesday.
We need an answer
Before the October 7 attack, which radically changed the situation, Gaza was run by Hamas, which has been in power since 2006. There was no longer any Israeli presence in the autonomous territory, unlike the West Bank, even though Israel imposed a blockade and therefore weighed heavily on life in the territory.
Israel has still not publicly stated its vision for the post-war period in Gaza
The Prime Minister's response is open to interpretation, and he did not explicitly mention re-occupation. Nevertheless, Israel has still not publicly stated its vision for the post-war period in Gaza, beyond its refusal to return to the pre-October 7 situation.
In the next few weeks or months, we'll need an answer — more than two million Gazans will find themselves in total destitution, with towns rendered uninhabitable by the deluge of fire, 100% dependent on international aid, without which they will simply die.
Biden and Netanyahu
Biden and Netanyahu on Oct. 18
Miriam Alster / Pool via ZUMA
Getting in, getting out
Who will manage the territory? The Americans are suggesting the return of Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, but this is already a very weak response, and will be very difficult to implement if it seems to be getting in the way of the Israeli army.
The real question raised by Netanyahu's statement is whether Israel, and Israel alone, will decide the fate of the Gazans.
The U.S. diplomatic spokesman was clear, " Our viewpoint is that Palestinians must be at the forefront of these decisions, and Gaza is Palestinian land and it will remain Palestinian land." We'll have to compare this sentence with the situation six months or a year from now.
The United States has an interest that is not necessarily the same as Netanyahu's, to soften its image as an unconditional supporter of Israel's war. This image does not sit well with Joe Biden's voters, in the Arab world or in the countries of the Global South.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, does not want to enter into a political process that could lead to a Palestinian state, an option he has spent the last quarter-century blocking.
For the time being, the Israeli army is pushing deeper into Gaza every hour. But it knows from experience that it's easier to get in than to get out. But that day will come — and political nature abhors a void.
- As Gaza Death Toll Tops 10,000, No Sign Of Israel Relenting ›
- Why So Many Palestinians Wouldn't Flee Gaza Even If They Could ›
- Why Hamas Launched A War It Knows It's Bound To Lose ›
- Three Scenarios Where The U.S., China Or Russia Winds Up Stronger After The Gaza War - Worldcrunch ›
- None ›