Netanyahu lays out post-war plan that Palestinian leader says is doomed to fail

Author: Editors Desk, Thomson Reuters Source: CBC News:
February 23, 2024 at 13:46

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented his first official "day after" plan for the Gaza Strip once Israel's war with Hamas ends, saying Israel will keep security control over all Palestinian areas and make reconstruction of Gaza dependent on its demilitarization.
For decades, world leaders have sold an Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution as the best hope for peace in the region, but is it even possible? CBC’s Ellen Mauro breaks down the major challenges standing in the way.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented his first official "day after" plan for the Gaza Strip once the war with Hamas ends, saying Israel will keep security control over Palestinian areas and make reconstruction dependent on demilitarization.

The plan, which brings together a range of well-established Israeli positions, underlines Netanyahu's resistance to the creation of a Palestinian state, which he sees as a security threat, without explicitly ruling one out at some future stage.

It was swiftly dismissed by Palestinian officials as doomed to failure.

The document proposes Israel would maintain security control over all land west of Jordan, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza — territories where the Palestinians hope to establish an independent state.

A construction crew with machinery is shown beside a heavily damaged concrete building, with several pieces of debris on the ground.
Palestinians search for survivors on Friday after an Israeli airstrike on a residential building in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip. (Adel Hana/The Associated Press)


The plan, which Netanyahu presented to the security cabinet on Thursday, comes amid intensifying international calls to end the fighting and revive efforts to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. The war inside Gaza has destroyed large swathes of the territory and killed more than 29,400 Palestinians in close to five months, according to health officials in Gaza.

The United States, Israel's main ally, has said that only a two-state solution has a chance of bringing long-term peace.

Netanyahu's office says plan reflects 'broad public consensus'

In the long-term goals listed, Netanyahu rejects the "unilateral recognition" of a Palestinian state. He says a settlement with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides — without naming a specific Palestinian party.

In Gaza, it proposes replacing Hamas administrative control with local representatives "who are not affiliated with terrorist countries or groups and are not financially supported by them," setting demilitarization and deradicalization as goals to be achieved in the medium term.

"The prime minister's document of principles reflects broad public consensus over the goals of the war and for replacing Hamas rule in Gaza with a civilian alternative," a statement by the prime minister's office said.

The plan does not elaborate on when that intermediate stage would begin or how long it would last. But it conditions the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, much of which has been laid to waste by Israel's offensive, on its complete demilitarization.

Recognition of independence essential: Abbas spokesperson

The spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told Reuters that Netanyahu's proposal was doomed to fail, as were any Israeli plans to change the geographic and demographic realities in Gaza.

"If the world is genuinely interested in having security and stability in the region, it must end Israel's occupation of Palestinian land and recognize an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," he said.The calls for a ceasefire are growing louder after more than 29,000 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian officials. But Israel is still threatening to invade Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have fled for refuge. Matt Galloway asks Bob Rae, Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, if the international community should be taking a firmer line to dissuade Israel from invading Rafah.

To secure control of Gaza, Netanyahu proposes that Israel have a presence on the Gaza-Egypt border in the south of the territory and co-operate with Egypt and the United States in that area to prevent smuggling attempts, including at the Rafah crossing.

The plan calls for shutting down the UN Palestinian refugees agency, UNRWA, the main provider of aid inside Gaza, which Israel has repeatedly accused of providing cover to Hamas and replacing it with other international aid groups.

The document was distributed to security cabinet members to start a discussion on the issue.

Negotiations continue for a pause in fighting

The war was triggered by a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 in which 1,200 people were killed, including several Canadians. Around 253 people were taken hostage, and it is believed 134 remain in Gaza, according to Israeli counts.

On Friday, as the plans became public, efforts to achieve a pause in the fighting to allow the return of some of those hostages continued ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in March.

Several men march in an urban setting, several are carrying long guns on straps across their bodies.
Gunmen march ahead of the bodies of two people who were killed in an Israeli drone strike on a car in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank a day earlier. The Israeli military alleged that one of the people killed was involved in several shooting attacks targeting Israeli settlements and army posts. (Majdi Mohammed)

Israeli ministers have said that unless a deal is reached, Israel will launch its long-awaited operation against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have sought shelter under increasing dire humanitarian conditions.


WATCH l Rafah residents have few options as Israeli operation looms:

Ramzi Okasha, who is living with his family in a tent in Rafah, says people are afraid of a possible Israeli incursion into the southern Gazan city. Okasha told freelance journalist Mohamed El Saife the logistics of evacuating civilians from refugee camps seem all but impossible should an invasion happen.

Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel has responded with an air and ground assault that has displaced most of the territory's population and caused widespread hunger and disease.

Little progress has been made on achieving Palestinian statehood since the signing of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s. Among the obstacles impeding it are expanding Israeli settlements in territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

WATCH l Some Israelis, officials believe attacks open door to more Jewish settlements:
A controversial gathering promoting the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza to build Jewish settlements that was attended by high-ranking Israeli officials received international condemnation.

Most countries regard the settlements, which in many areas cut Palestinian communities off from each other, as a violation of international law. Israel claims a biblical birthright to the land and on Thursday said it would approve more than 3,000 new housing units in settlements.

The White House said Friday it was disappointed in that announcement from Israel, which it said was inconsistent with international law.

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