Thursday, July 25, 2024

Netanyahu reveals a plan for the future of Gaza in the post-Hamas era


Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Jerusalem on February 18.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a plan Gaza A post-Hamas future, which includes the “complete demilitarization” of the enclave and the closure of the Strip The southern border with Egyptas well as reforming the civil administration and education systems in Gaza.

CNN obtained a copy of the plan that Netanyahu presented to members of the Israeli security cabinet on Thursday evening. The Prime Minister's Office told CNN that the report was distributed as a basis for discussion, in preparation for further talks, and comes after Netanyahu faced weeks of criticism for not having a concrete plan for post-war Gaza.

The plan comes as Israel sent a negotiating team led by Mossad Director David Barnea to Paris on Friday to continue talks on a possible ceasefire and ceasefire. Hostage release deal This could put an end to the war that has been going on for four months.

More than 29,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to the Ministry of Health in the Strip. The Hamas attack on October 7 killed 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

A number of principles are set out in the document, from changes at the security and civilian levels to long-term plans for who governs the region.

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Regarding the security file, the envisioned plan includes Israel closing Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, giving Israel complete control over entry and exit from the Strip. At present, Egypt controls access to and from the southern border of Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Netanyahu's plan says that Israel will cooperate “as much as possible” with Egypt, in coordination with the United States.

It is not clear whether Israel has obtained Egypt's approval for this element of the plan, or any part of it. But an Israeli official told CNN that the plan is “compatible” with the United States.

There was no immediate official US reaction to the proposal.

The plan confirms, as Netanyahu has previously said, that “Israel will enjoy security control over the entire area west of Jordan,” which includes all of the West Bank and Israel, in addition to Gaza.

The Palestinians have long sought to establish an independent state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

The plan says Israel will be responsible for “investigating and supervising” the demilitarization of the Strip, except as required to maintain public order.

Yahya Hassouna/AFP/Getty Images

An aerial view of buildings destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in Jabalia Palestinian refugee camp in Gaza City, Gaza Strip on October 11.

On the civilian level, Netanyahu is detailing a comprehensive overhaul of Gaza's civil administration and education systems, including an apparent cut in funding from Qatar to Gaza – something that the previous Netanyahu government had decided on. Approved and facilitated.

The plan says local entities running the civil service “will not be linked to, nor receive funds from, countries or entities that support terrorism.”

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While it is likely a reference to Qatar, it is not clear whether it would also apply to the Palestinian Authority, which the United States has said should run a revamped version of Gaza in the future.

Netanyahu's plan also calls for the “de-radicalization” of the education system, which Israel and its allies have long accused of promoting anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel.

The plan reiterates that Israel will work to close UNRWA, the main UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, and work to replace it with “responsible international aid agencies.”

Israel accuses about a dozen UNRWA employees of being directly involved in the Hamas attack on October 7. The agency employs about 13,000 people in Gaza.

Finally, the plan reiterates Israel's insistence that it will not be forced by the international community to do so Recognition of the Palestinian stateIt is a possibility that the United Kingdom and US President Joe Biden have begun to float.

Netanyahu’s plan stated that “Israel categorically rejects international dictates regarding the permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” stressing that recognizing the Palestinian state now would be “a great reward for unprecedented terrorism.”

The main parties oppose many of the proposals. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already done so unacceptable The idea of ​​a buffer zone. Egypt has unacceptable The suggestion that Israel could control its border with Gaza. The UAE said that without a clear roadmap towards establishing an independent Palestinian state – which Netanyahu has ruled out – it would not help. Paying the bill for Gaza's reconstruction.

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Netanyahu's pledge to abolish UNRWA, the UN aid agency that provides Gaza with most international aid, was difficult to achieve even before October 7. Now, as the United Nations warns that almost all of Gaza's population is at risk…Imminent famine“The task will be enormous.

There is no mention in the plan of the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the occupied West Bank. Netanyahu had previously rejected the suggestion that he might take control of Gaza. It is not clear whether he would now accept a reconstituted version of power – and it is not at all clear that this would be accepted by the Palestinians, many more of whom voted for Hamas in the 2006 elections.

For now, Netanyahu's priority remains the destruction of Hamas and the return of more than a hundred hostages who were kidnapped on October 7 and remain in Gaza. Getting the hostage talks back on track is the main goal of the high-level delegation Netanyahu sent to Paris on Friday. The United States and others hope an agreement will prevent that from happening Ground operation in Rafah This could raise the death toll in Gaza to more than 30,000.

Most observers believe that once the war ends, elections in Israel will become inevitable, and this is the case for Netanyahu and his allies. And he expected To lose. But it is not at all clear whether a different leader — war cabinet member and former opposition leader Benny Gantz has been described as a favorite — would have a different vision for Gaza.



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