Tue 27 Feb 2024 1:19 pm - Jerusalem Time

American newspaper: Netanyahu’s document is a mine in the path of international talks on the day after the war in Gaza

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed what the Israeli media called a “document,” or Netanyahu’s plan for the day after the end of the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip. This document, which came on one page, sparked many reactions, whether on the Palestinian or Israeli side or at the international level.

In an analysis published by Bloomberg News Agency, writer Mark Champion said that what Netanyahu published was not a plan at all, but rather just a list of his long-term, and often contradictory, positions on the conflict in Gaza, but he pledged these positions in writing in order to ensure the cohesion of his government, the calm of the Israeli street, and the position of Washington. In trouble. But the most important question is what can be done with what the Israeli Prime Minister proposed.

Champion believes that the correct answer at the present moment may be: nothing. But securing a temporary ceasefire so that more detainees held by Palestinian armed factions can be released, and providing food, water and medicine to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, is most important now, and diplomatic efforts must be focused on achieving this goal.

But Netanyahu's document clearly showed the limited chances of achieving a ceasefire. The document still commits to continuing the war until the Palestinian Hamas movement is eliminated, which requires resuming the fighting sooner rather than later.

It also calls for an indefinite Israeli military presence in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the establishment of a buffer zone inside the Strip, the imposition of Israeli control on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, the dismantling of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), and the establishment of a Palestinian civil administration in the Strip. Gaza is taken over by employees not linked to the Hamas government, in addition to the involvement of Arab countries in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip in accordance with the Israeli vision.

Champion, a member of Bloomberg's opinion editorial board and a veteran journalist who has worked at the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Moscow Times, sees these goals as clashing and contradictory.

Some provisions prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and some of them could leave Israel in rare international isolation, with the American also refusing to support Israel's actions.

For example, the establishment of a buffer zone requires the continuous and systematic destruction of Palestinian homes in this region, the permanent displacement of its population, and the reduction of the area of the Gaza Strip, while the administration of US President Joe Biden said that it considers these measures a red line that it will not accept.

Eliminating the Hamas movement and controlling the border with Egypt requires sending Israeli tanks to the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, which hosts about hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who have fled to it to escape the fierce war that Israel is waging in the northern and central Gaza Strip. Egypt and the United States oppose any Israeli ground operation against Rafah, at least before civilians are allowed to leave safely.

At the same time, the abolition of UNRWA and the Gaza government, which is run by “Hamas,” will unleash a state of chaos in the Strip, due to the lack of an alternative that can carry out the agency’s tasks and administration.

The reoccupation of Gaza will eliminate the prospects for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, while Saudi Arabia and other countries have clearly emphasized that their contribution to the reconstruction of Gaza is entirely linked to Israel's pledge to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state.

This means that Netanyahu’s document can be considered a mine in the path of the US-led talks regarding the plan for the day after the war in Gaza, by undermining its basic principle, which is the pledge to establish a Palestinian state, in exchange for the Arabs’ financial and practical contribution to rebuilding Gaza and normalizing relations with Israel. It is best to treat it as a starting point for what will be very difficult negotiations.

Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official, says that although this document is not important as a plan, it sets general lines that are consistent with what the majority in Israel believes.

In his analysis, Champion points out what Netanyahu did not talk about in his paper, such as ignoring the call of the extreme right-wing members of his government to restore settlement in the Gaza Strip, and he did not rule out any role for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza in the future.

As for Netanyahu’s pledge to continue the Israeli military presence in Gaza, it means the occupation of the Strip, and it also means an implicit recognition from him that the “Hamas” movement will not disappear from existence, as he claims, once his war against it ends.

If Israel withdraws from the Gaza Strip after the fighting stops, it will leave a security vacuum, as was the case before last October 7, while the Hamas movement will be able to regroup its ranks and regain control of the land, which is the only scenario that almost brings the Israelis together. 

Melamed believes that the second goal of the continued Israeli military presence in Gaza for the Netanyahu government is to strengthen its control over any future negotiations.

Finally, it can be said that Netanyahu's document is not a plan, but it is just a beginning. Even if the prime minister does not want to engage in talks to develop a practical mechanism for dealing with Gaza after the war, his successors will have to engage in these talks.

Source: Sama News


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American newspaper: Netanyahu’s document is a mine in the path of international talks on the day after the war in Gaza