April 22, 2024

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Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presents Gaza's post-war plan

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu presents Gaza's post-war plan
  • Written by Jenny Hill
  • BBC News, Jerusalem

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Under Netanyahu's plan, Gaza would be administered by Palestinians with no ties to armed groups

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented his vision for post-war Gaza.

Under his plan, Israel would control security indefinitely, and Palestinians with no ties to anti-Israel groups would administer the area.

The United States, Israel's main ally, wants the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank to rule the Gaza Strip after the war.

But the short document – which Netanyahu presented to ministers last night – did not mention the Palestinian Authority.

It had previously been ruled out that the internationally supported organization would have a role after the war.

He envisions a “demilitarized” Gaza. Israel will be responsible for removing all military capabilities beyond those necessary for public order.

There will be a “southern closure” on the region's borders with Egypt to prevent underground and above-ground smuggling.

“De-radicalization” programs will be promoted in all religious, educational and social welfare institutions. The document indicates that Arab countries with experience in such programs will participate, although Netanyahu did not specify which ones.

Under the plan, Israel will also maintain security control over the entire area west of Jordan from land, sea and air.

Netanyahu has been under internal and international pressure to publish proposals regarding Gaza since he began his military operation. He is keen to restore his faltering reputation as a leader who can keep Israel safe and will want to attract right-wing hardliners into his coalition government.

A spokesman for Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, said Netanyahu's plan was doomed to failure.

Nabil Abu Rudeina said: “If the world is truly interested in achieving security and stability in the region, it must end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and recognize the independent Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu reiterated his rejection of any unilateral recognition by Western countries of the Palestinian state.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Friday that the United States opposes any reoccupation of the Gaza Strip by Israel, as well as any reduction in the size of the Strip.

“Gaza… cannot be a platform for terrorism,” he said during a meeting of G20 ministers in Argentina. “There should be no Israeli reoccupation of Gaza. The size of Gaza’s territory should not be reduced.”

Meanwhile, negotiators trying to reach a temporary ceasefire and release of Israeli hostages are expected to meet in Paris.

The United States wants to reach an agreement before the start of the holy month of Ramadan in just over two weeks.

As the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorates, there is also international pressure to stop the war. The Hamas-run Ministry of Health reports that more than 29,500 people, most of them women and children, have been killed since the war began in October.

The trigger for the Israeli military offensive was the unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7, in which militants killed about 1,200 people – most of them civilians – and took 253 hostages to Gaza.

The head of the United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) warned overnight that Gaza was facing a “huge disaster with serious implications for peace, security and human rights in the region.”

In a letter to the President of the UN General Assembly, Philippe Lazzarini said the agency “has reached a breaking point, with Israel’s repeated calls to dismantle UNRWA and freeze funding from donors at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza.”

Some of UNRWA's largest donors suspended their funding to the agency last month after UNRWA fired several of its employees amid allegations from Israel that they participated in the October attacks.

Netanyahu aims to close the agency as part of his post-war plan and replace it with international aid organizations – which he has not yet specified.

He also insisted that he would continue his war until Israel was able to dismantle Hamas and Islamic Jihad – the second largest armed group in Gaza – and return all the Israeli hostages.

At the end of 2023, Netanyahu warned that the war could continue “for several more months.”

On the other hand, the United States described Israel's expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank as inconsistent with international law.

“Our administration maintains its firm opposition to settlement expansion, and in our view this only weakens Israel’s security, not strengthens it,” Blinken said.

It reverses a move the Trump administration took in 2019, which Israel welcomed, when then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington no longer viewed settlements as violating international law.

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