World rejection of Israel’s plan for Gaza

Monjed Jadou, Sunday 3 Mar 2024

Israel’s plan for the post-war governance of the Gaza Strip has been widely rejected by the Palestinians and international opinion.

World rejection of Israel s plan for Gaza

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for post-war arrangements in the Gaza Strip, recently presented to his cabinet, has faced widespread rejection both among the Palestinian political factions and supporters of Israel worldwide, including the US, the EU, and other countries.

The Israeli plan includes several key points, among them maintaining Israeli security control over theStrip through its division into sectors, the construction of checkpoints regulating the movement of Palestinians within the sectors, and the retaining of security control over the Gaza-Egypt border.

It also involves entrusting civilian matters to unspecified individuals, signalling Israel’s refusal to hand over control to the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Fatah. Additionally, it emphasises Netanyahu’s rejection of reconstruction efforts before the conclusion of the conflict and the end of Hamas rule.

The plan aims to terminate the services of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), considered a vital lifeline for the refugees, and leveraging the aftermath of the 7 October attacks to achieve this goal.

There has been unanimous Palestinian rejection of the plan, even among politically antagonistic groups. Both Fatah and Hamas have expressed their rejection, particularly of the plan’s political aspects that endorse the continued Israeli presence in Gaza.

The Palestinians say that the plan is destined for failure, in a way similar to previous Israeli schemes attempting to subdue them over years of resistance against the occupation.

The Palestinian presidency represented by Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeinehstated that Netanyahu’s plan aims to perpetuate Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories and hinder the establishment of a Palestinian state.

“Gaza will be part of the independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, and any other schemes are destined to fail. Israel will not succeed in altering the geographical and demographic realities in the Gaza Strip,” Abu Rudeineh said.

“If the world desires security and stability in the region, it must end the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories, recognisean independent Palestinian state, and acknowledge Jerusalem as its capital.”

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs vehemently rejected the Israeli prime minister’s plan, considering it an “official acknowledgement of the reoccupation of the Gaza Strip and the imposition of Israeli control over it.”

It said the plan was a“blatant manoeuvre to obstruct and undermine US and international efforts aimed at linking the ceasefire arrangements and the release of the prisoners and hostages to resolving the conflict and setting up a Palestinian state on the ground.”

The plan seeks to “prolong the duration of the war in Gaza” and is an attempt to gain more time to execute Israeli displacement plans, the ministry said.

Hamas, now engaged in military confrontations with Israel for approximately 145 days, aligned its position with that of the PA and Fatah. At a press conference in Beirut, Hamas official Osama Hamdan said the plan is destined to fail.

“Regarding the day after in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu is presenting ideas fully aware that they will not succeed. He has put forward a document full of his usual repetitive thoughts,” Hamdan said.

“This document will have no practical impact because the reality of Gaza and the Palestinian people is determined by the Palestinians themselves.”

“Reading this document and the decision to reject recognition of a Palestinian state reflects two things that everyone, especially those calling for political settlements like the Oslo Accords, must ponder,” Hamdan said.

“Firstly, it categorically rejects recognising a Palestinian state and refuses to acknowledge Palestinian identity. This raises the question of whether Netanyahu and others like him are qualified for political discussions with the Palestinians.”

A member of Hamas’ political bureau said the second issue is Netanyahu’s insistence “on separating the West Bank from Gaza and Jerusalem from the West Bank. This means that his real plan is to seize and fragment the Palestinian Territories.”

There were warnings to some Palestinian factions against engaging with Netanyahu’s plan, with both Fatah and Hamas rejecting the Israeli proposal for Gaza to be administered by selected individuals and entities.

Fatah and Hamas expressed their joint refusal of the Israeli plans. Muafak Matar, a political analyst close to Fatah, said in an article entitled “Trojan Horse in Netanyahu’s Plan” that the plan can be encapsulated in one sentence as an attempt to “update the Palestinian Nakba.”

He said that Netanyahu’s plan defends war crimes and crimes against humanity and attempts to cement the control of the oppressor over the oppressed. The plan targets the existence of the Palestinian people in their historical and natural homeland, Palestine, along with their national identity and inherent human and political rights.

Netanyahu had deliberately delayed unveiling the plan in order to exploit any vulnerabilities in the unity of the Palestinian people, Matar said, adding that there were opportunities for an alliance between Hamas and certain other parties, including former Fatah leader Mohamed Dahlan, after Hamdan announced Hamas’ agreement with unnamed Palestinian factions to form a reconstruction government in Gaza and prepare for elections.

Matar pointed out that Netanyahu has remained ambiguous about the individuals who will administer Gaza under the Israeli plan“under the authority of the occupation.”Israel plans to prevent the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 1967 and to thwart the two-state solution, he said.

With regard to Netanyahu’s efforts to eliminate UNRWA, Anwar Hammam of the Refugee Affairs Department in the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), commented that this is a major goal for Israel. It believes that liquidating UNRWA will pave the way for resolvingthe Palestinian issue on its terms.

Hammam said that Israel andNetanyahu mustrealise that 76 years after the Nakba, the Palestinian people remain steadfast in claiming their rights. Despite Israel’s attempts to distort the Palestinian identity and culture, the Palestinians have not wavered in their commitment, he said.

The right of return is an inviolable right for every Palestinian refugee that cannot be waived or abandoned and is the right of every generation of the Palestinian refugees, Hammam said.

Tampering with UNRWA would have significant repercussions in the Palestinian refugee camps and among millions of refugees in their homeland and the diaspora. Any deterioration of services for the refugees would threaten the region and the world, he added.

Any attempt to interfere with UNRWA’s funding and operations would contradict the mandate granted by UN General Assembly Resolution 302 of 1949. The Palestiniansreject any efforts to replace UNRWA with other international agencies or partnerships that operate on behalf of or as substitutes for UNRWA, he said, adding that these would be considered to be a violation of UNRWA’s mandate.

Many countries worldwide have issued statements rejecting the contents of Netanyahu’s plan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US rejected any “new occupation” of Gaza after the war’s conclusion. This was in response to Netanyahu’s plan outlining the situation post-war, which has been ongoing since 7 October last year.

Speaking at a press conference in Buenos Aires, Blinken said he had not reviewed the plan, so he refrained from providing a definitive answer. However, he touched upon “fundamental principles” that had been established months ago and were considered crucial by Washington for Gaza’s future.

Gaza “should not be a platform for terrorism,”he said, adding that there should be no new Israeli occupation of Gaza and its territory should not be diminished.

Spokesperson for the US National Security Council John Kirby said that the Palestinian people “should have a voice and a vote... through a renewed Palestinian Authority.”

Washington rejects any “shrinking of Gaza” and any “forced displacement of Palestinians outside the Strip,” he said.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell said after the G20 Summit in Brazilthat everyone, without exception, supported the two-state solution. “Everyone here, everyone, I haven’t heard anyone opposing that. There has been strong support for a two-state solution,” Borrell said.

“The common denominator is that there will be no peace and no sustainable security for Israel unless the Palestinians have a clear political perspective to build their own state,” he said, in a clear indication of the European rejection of Netanyahu’s plan.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 29 February, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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