With Netanyahu in no mood for concession, Gaza faces uncertain future

With Netanyahu in no mood for concession, Gaza faces uncertain future


Washington, November 11 (IANS) When the smoke and dust settle after the war is over, Gaza won’t be under the rule of Hamas, the group that carried out the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. But it’s not clear yet who will be in power instead.

Israel is likely to remain in Gaza for some time, but not too long.

The US, which is the principal backer of Israel, has laid down certain broad parameters.

“The US believes key elements should include no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza – not now, not after the war,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said after a meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers in Tokyo on Wednesday.

“No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks. No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza. We must also ensure no terrorist threats can emanate from the West Bank.

“We must also work on the affirmative elements to get to a sustained peace. These must include the Palestinian people’s voices and aspirations at the center of post-crisis governance in Gaza. It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority," he added.

The last sentence had been noted widely that the US would like the future governance structure to be a unified West Bank and Gaza under the Palestinian Authority.

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestinian Authority, is reported to have expressed interest in taking control of Gaza but only in an independent Palestinian state that includes the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

For years, the Authority’s writ has been confined to the West Bank as Hamas-ruled Gaza.

“We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the [occupied] West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip,” Abbas was quoted as telling Blinken at a recent meeting, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Here is the immediate future, in short: Hamas can’t continue to rule Gaza and Israel can’t occupy Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kicked up a storm saying Monday that Israel will have the overall security responsibility in Gaza for an “indefinite period”.

Asked about this comment, Blinken said that few things are clear now. “One, Gaza cannot continue to be run by Hamas. That simply invites a repetition of October 7 and Gaza being used as a place from which to launch terrorist attacks. It’s also clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza.”

The top US diplomat did concede, however, of the need for a “transition period” after the conflict during which time, Israel could remain involved.

But, he insisted, “it is imperative that the Palestinian people be central to governance in Gaza and in the West Bank as well, and that, again, we don’t see a reoccupation".

"And what I’ve heard from Israeli leaders is that they have no intent to reoccupy Gaza and retake control of Gaza."

Israel took the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War, the West Bank from Jordan and Golan Heights from Syria.

It returned the Sinai to Egypt in 1979 and absorbed Golan Heights, a move that was gained US recognition under President Donald Trump.

Israel retains parts of the West Bank -- other parts are with the Palestinian Authority -- and it ended its occupation of Gaza in 2005.

Two year later Hamas won control of Gaza after a war with Fatah, the party in power in the Palestinian Authority.