Israel & Palestine

Netanyahu proposes plan for post-war Gaza with Israeli army having ‘freedom’ to operate

Author: Editors Desk Source: France 24
February 23, 2024 at 09:39
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on December 24, 2023. © Ohad Zwigenberg, AP
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv on December 24, 2023. © Ohad Zwigenberg, AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has proposed a plan for post-war Gaza that envisions local Palestinian officials without links to Hamas or its foreign backers governing the territory, Israeli media reported Friday.

The proposal, which Netanyahu submitted to his security cabinet late Thursday, would also see the Israeli army persisting in its war on Hamas until it achieves key goals.

Those include dismantling Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and securing the release of all hostages still held captive in Gaza.

After the war ends, Gaza's civil affairs would be run by "local officials with administrative experience" and who are "not linked to countries or entities that support terrorism", the Times of Israel newspaper reported quoting key elements of Netanyahu's plan.

Even after the war, the Israeli army would have "indefinite freedom" to operate throughout Gaza to prevent any resurgence of terror activity, according to the plan.

"The plan states that Israel will move forward with its already-in-motion project to establish a security buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the strip's border," the report said, adding the zone would remain "as long as there is a security need for it".

It also envisages Israeli security control "over the entire area west of Jordan" from the land, sea and air "to prevent the strengthening of terrorist elements in the (occupied West Bank) and the Gaza Strip and to thwart threats from them towards Israel," the report said.

The plan envisages Gaza's "complete demilitarisation... beyond what is required for the needs of maintaining public order".

It aims to promote "de-radicalisation in all religious, educational and welfare institutions in Gaza".

A key element of the plan was the dismantling of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, the report said.

Israel has alleged that several employees of UNRWA took part in the October 7 attack on Israel that resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The United Nations sacked the employees accused by Israel and has begun an internal probe of the agency. Since the Israeli allegations emerged several countries have suspended their funding to the agency.

The plan also has elements concerning the Egypt-Gaza border, which has been plagued by smuggling, the newspaper reported.

It said a "southern closure" on the frontier would be enforced to prevent a revival of any terror or smuggling activity.

Some elements of the reported Netanyahu plan conflict with Washington's vision for post-war Gaza.

The United States has backed Netanyahu's call to eradicate Hamas, which controls Gaza, but has called for the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmud Abbas in the occupied West Bank, gradually to take over control in Gaza.

On Friday, Abbas's spokesman slammed the plan.

"Gaza will only be part of the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Nabil Abu Rudeineh said, according to Palestinian official news agency Wafa.

"Any plans to the contrary are destined to fail. Israel will not succeed in attempts to alter the geographic and demographic reality in the Gaza Strip," he said.

"If the world wants security and stability in the region, it must end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and recognise the independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital," Abu Rudeineh said.

Netanyahu has long denounced the Palestinian Authority, and on Wednesday Israel's parliament also backed his proposal opposing any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.


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