Sat 02 Dec 2023 12:47 pm - Jerusalem Time
Harris charts Washington's vision for post-conflict Gaza at COP28
Today, Saturday, US Vice President Kamla Harris will present the main American goals when the conflict between Israel and Hamas ends, and will stress the necessity of reuniting the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank in the end under one ruling entity.
Harris will participate in a series of meetings at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai after US President Joe Biden sent her to represent him at the summit while he focuses on the war between Israel and the Palestinians.
The White House said Harris would carry a message about post-conflict Gaza as the region faces the repercussions of the war that has turned the Middle East upside down.
A White House official said: "It will emphasize that any plan for the post-conflict phase in Gaza must include a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people and ensure the reunification of Gaza and the West Bank under one entity."
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority rules parts of the West Bank. Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 from the Fatah movement, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, and has governed the Strip since then.
Harris' role in the administration is being watched increasingly closely as Biden (81 years old) runs for a second presidential term. She was tasked with helping to address a series of major challenges such as immigration, abortion and voting rights from home.
How post-conflict Gaza should realistically be managed is an issue that confounds regional leaders and Middle East experts.
The future of the Palestinian Authority
US officials have discussed strengthening the Palestinian Authority so that it can expand its scope of work to include Gaza, but a firm plan has not yet been agreed upon.
Some American officials privately expressed doubts about the Palestinian Authority's ability to manage Gaza after the war. Critics accused the Palestinian Authority of corruption and mismanagement, and opinion polls showed that its credibility with the Palestinian people was low.
Harris will meet with regional leaders and consult with them regarding the latest developments in Gaza, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE.
The White House official said: “In her meetings, the Vice President will set the rules regarding post-conflict Gaza and will put forward specific proposals that contribute to the involvement of Palestinian voices in the process and build regional support for our efforts.”
In her statements later on Saturday, Harris will express the United States' desire to return to the truce between Israel and Hamas in order to remove more hostages from Gaza and get humanitarian aid flowing again.
“It will certainly make clear that, as we have said many times before, we believe that the Palestinian people need to participate in determining their future and to have a role in that, and that they need governance in Gaza,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters in Washington. He takes care of his aspirations and needs.”
Harris has previously carried important messages from Biden abroad. She said at the Munich Security Conference last February that the Biden administration had officially concluded that Russia had committed “crimes against humanity” during its invasion of Ukraine.