Nov 11, 2023 - World

Netanyahu says he opposes Palestinian Authority's return to post-war Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that he opposes the idea of the Palestinian Authority retaking control of the Gaza Strip on the day after the war.

Why it matters: Netanyahu's position goes against that of the Biden administration, most European countries and the Arab world, which have indicated that the PA must be involved in Gaza after the war.

What they're saying: "There isn't going to be in Gaza a civilian authority that teaches its children to hate Israel and to destroy Israel," Netanyahu said at a press conference Saturday.

  • "We can't have [In Gaza] an authority that pays families of terrorists...and it can't be an authority that the person who is heading it hasn't condemned the Oct. 7 massacre," he added, referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. "There needs to be something different."

The big picture: Israel says the goal of its offensive in Gaza is to free the hostages Hamas is holding and to "destroy" the militant group.

  • Israel has said that it does not wish to "reoccupy" or control the Strip for a long period of time, but it has not given a detailed plan for who it believes should govern the enclave if it achieves its goal of dismantling Hamas.
  • Netanyahu in recent days has indicated that Israeli forces will stay in Gaza for at least some time after the war. "IDF forces will remain in control of the Strip, we will not give it to international forces," he said on Friday.

Behind the scenes: The Biden administration has been focused in recent days on trying to get discussions going on a day-after plan for when the war ends.

  • Two Biden administration officials said Secretary of State Tony Blinken told Abbas in Ramallah last week that the U.S. believes the Palestinian Authority needs to play a key role in Gaza after the war.
  • Blinken told reporters later in Tokyo there must be "affirmative elements to get to a sustained peace" after the war. This "must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority," he added.
  • Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007 when it ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in a violent takeover after winning the Palestinian elections the previous year.

Barbara Leaf, assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that the Biden administration believes the Palestinian Authority "is the appropriate place to look for governance [in Gaza] eventually."

  • Leaf added, however, that she can't say "whether the Palestinian Authority is fit for purpose to go in immediately [after the war], probably not. And so we will consult thoroughly with both Israel and the Palestinians as we think through this prospect."

Between the lines: The foreign ministers of several Arab countries told Blinken last week they would not be responsible for Gaza after the war and that they won't be involved in any day-after initiative that doesn't include the PA, according to the Biden administration officials.

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