Sat 04 May 2024 7:46 am - Jerusalem Time

New York Times: Israel is considering sharing power in Gaza with Arab countries after the war

The American newspaper "The New York Times" said in a report published on Friday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had avoided for months holding a detailed public discussion about the future of Gaza after the war.

The newspaper reported that, in his attempt to appease his far-right allies who seek to rebuild Israeli settlements in Gaza and Israel's foreign partners who want Gaza to return to Palestinian rule, Netanyahu did not reach the point of any specific announcement.

But behind the scenes, senior officials in his office were considering an expanded plan for post-war Gaza in which Israel would offer to share oversight of the Strip with a coalition of Arab countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as the United States, according to three Israeli officials and five people who discussed the plan with members of the Israeli government. .

According to this proposal, Israel would do this in exchange for normalizing relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, according to the people who spoke to the American newspaper on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

According to the New York Times, the far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition would almost certainly reject such an idea, as would the Arab countries mentioned as potential participants, but it is the clearest indication yet that officials at the highest levels of the Israeli government are thinking about the future of Gaza in the post-Israeli era. War, although not much has been said publicly and this reference may serve as a starting point in future negotiations.

This revelation comes against the backdrop of intense international efforts to persuade Israel and Hamas to agree to a ceasefire that could eventually become a permanent truce, and comes after increasing pressure on Israel to plan for what comes next.

The American newspaper explained that Israel's reluctance to determine how to govern Gaza has created a power vacuum in most parts of the Strip, which has led to chaos and exacerbated the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Arab officials and analysts described the power-sharing plan as unworkable because it does not create a clear path toward establishing a Palestinian state, which the Emirati and Saudi governments have said is a prerequisite for their participation in post-war planning, but others cautiously welcomed the proposal because it at least offers greater flexibility among Israeli leaders. As their public statements suggest.

Under the proposal, the Arab-Israeli Alliance, in cooperation with the United States, would appoint leaders in Gaza to redevelop the devastated lands, reform its education system, and maintain order.

The newspaper pointed out that the proposal stipulates that after between seven and ten years, the coalition will allow the residents of Gaza to vote on whether they will be absorbed into a unified Palestinian administration that governs both Gaza and the West Bank. In the meantime, the plan indicates that the Israeli army could continue to Working inside Gaza.

The proposal does not explicitly state whether this unified administration will form a sovereign Palestinian state or whether it will include the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank, knowing that Prime Minister Netanyahu has publicly rejected the idea of full Palestinian sovereignty and has almost ruled out the participation of the Palestinian Authority.

The American newspaper confirmed that the Israeli Prime Minister's Office refused to comment on the matter.

The proposal lacks details and has not been formally adopted by the Israeli government, which has only publicly presented a more vague vision under which Israel would retain greater control over Gaza after the war.

The newspaper says that officials and analysts from the UAE and Saudi Arabia reported that the new proposal would not guarantee the participation of Arab countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, especially since it did not reach the point of guaranteeing Palestinian sovereignty and would allow the continuation of Israeli military operations inside Gaza.

The unveiling of the plan comes amid renewed efforts to conclude a truce between Israel and Hamas.

The same source stated that a group of businessmen, most of whom are Israeli and some of whom are close to Netanyahu, developed the plan in November and it was officially proposed for the first time to Israeli officials in Netanyahu’s office in December, according to a government official.

Two of the officials said the plan was still being studied at the highest levels of the Israeli government although it could only be implemented after Hamas was defeated and the hostages in Gaza were released.

The businessmen, who requested that their names not be revealed so as not to jeopardize their ability to promote the idea, said that they briefed officials from several Arab and Western governments, including the United States, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, about the plan.

The proposal was presented to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a Palestinian businessman, who requested to remain anonymous to protect his relatives from retaliation in Gaza, also participated in promoting the idea to American officials.

The New York Times adds that the businessmen's goal is to gain international support for the idea in order to convince Netanyahu that it is worth embarking on the difficult task of winning domestic support for it.

Netanyahu's coalition government could collapse if he officially backs a plan that does not categorically rule out the creation of a Palestinian state, as far-right members of his coalition strongly oppose Palestinian sovereignty and want to re-establish Israeli settlements in Gaza and have threatened to topple the government if the prime minister ends the war in Gaza without ousting Hamas.

Fearing the collapse of his government and losing support in a subsequent election campaign, Netanyahu has repeatedly expressed his opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state in recent months and pledged to retain Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But analysts and some of his allies believe he would be willing to leave open the theoretical possibility of Palestinian sovereignty if he is allowed to conclude a historic normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia.

The newspaper reports that establishing diplomatic relations with the most influential Arab country would allow Netanyahu to restore some of his political legacy.



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New York Times: Israel is considering sharing power in Gaza with Arab countries after the war