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Netanyahu’s Post-War Strategy: A New Dawn or a Deepening Divide for Gaza?

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu proposes a post-Gaza war plan, including maintaining security control and demilitarizing Gaza. The plan, rejected by Palestinian officials, seeks direct negotiations and aims to replace Hamas with civilian governance, amidst international calls for a two-state solution.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has laid out his comprehensive vision for the future of Gaza following the cessation of hostilities in the war-torn region. Presented during a brief respite in the conflict afforded by a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, Netanyahu’s plan delineates a “day after” scenario aimed at reshaping the Gaza Strip’s governance and security landscape.

Netanyahu’s proposal, delivered to Israel’s security cabinet and subsequently obtained by Reuters, outlines Israel’s intention to retain security control over all territories west of the Jordan River, including the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. This stance challenges the aspirations of Palestinians who seek these territories for the creation of an independent state.

Central to Netanyahu’s strategy is the outright rejection of unilateral moves toward the recognition of a Palestinian state. Instead, the Prime Minister advocates for direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinian representatives, though the proposal stops short of specifying potential Palestinian interlocutors.

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In a bid to address the immediate concerns of security and stabilization, Netanyahu’s plan calls for the demilitarization and deradicalization of Gaza. These objectives, set as medium-term goals, hinge on the complete disarmament of the region as a precondition for its rehabilitation. The devastation wrought by Israel’s military operations in response to a Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on October 7, which left 1,200 people dead and 253 hostages taken according to Israeli counts, underscores the urgency of these measures.

Further complicating the geopolitical puzzle is Netanyahu’s proposal for Israel to establish a presence along the Gaza-Egypt border. This move, aimed at curtailing smuggling efforts, seeks cooperation with Egypt and the United States, mainly focusing on the strategic Rafah crossing.

As part of a broader vision for Gaza’s future governance, Netanyahu envisions the replacement of Hamas rule with a civilian administration composed of local representatives. As per Netanyahu’s criteria, these representatives must be free from affiliations with terrorist countries or groups and devoid of their financial backing.

Another controversial element of Netanyahu’s plan involves the dissolution of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), with Netanyahu advocating for its replacement with other international aid organizations.

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The unveiling of this plan has not gone without criticism. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, has dismissed Netanyahu’s proposal as unfeasible, emphasizing the need for an end to the Israeli occupation and the recognition of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.

The conflict, which has led to the displacement of most of Gaza’s population and widespread humanitarian crises, has reignited debates over the so-called two-state solution. Despite being a longstanding policy supported by many in the international community, including Israel’s main ally, the United States, the path to Palestinian statehood remains fraught with obstacles, not least of which is opposition from within Israel’s political ranks.

As Netanyahu’s plan sets the stage for discussions within Israel’s security cabinet, the international community watches closely, hopeful for a resolution that brings lasting peace and stability to a region long marred by conflict. The pursuit of peace, as history has shown, is complex and fraught with challenges, but it remains an indispensable endeavor for the future of both Israelis and Palestinians.

 

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