Israel-US split over Gaza future after crashing Hamas

AP , Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Dec 2023

While the US has given wholehearted diplomatic and military support to Israel’s campaign, the two allies are wider apart over the timetable of the war and what comes afterward in Gaza if Hamas is defeated.

President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. AP
President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. AP

Benjamin Netanyahu says his government and that of the US have differing ideas on what the end of the current war might bring in terms of the governance of Gaza.

"There is a disagreement [with the US] when it comes to 'the day after Hamas,' and I hope we will come to an agreement here too," Netanyahu was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. "I will not allow Israel to repeat the mistake of Oslo."

The 1993 Oslo Accords saw Israel agree that Palestinian people had the right of self-determination, although did not create a definitive Palestinian state.

Netanyahu in a statement, reiterating his past refusal to back the return of the Palestinian Authority, run by the Fatah faction, to rule over Gaza once again, saying that Gaza "will be neither Hamas-stan nor 'Fatah-stan'". 

In a briefing with the AP on Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant signaled that the current phase of heavy ground fighting and airstrikes could stretch on for weeks and that further military activity could continue for months.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said he will speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about timetables for ending major combat in Gaza when he visits Israel later this week.

Speaking at a forum hosted by the Wall Street Journal, Sullivan said he would also speak to Netanyahu about his recent comments that the Israeli military would maintain an open-ended security control of Gaza after the war ends.

The Biden administration says it does not want to see Israel reoccupy Gaza. It has also called for a return of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority to Gaza and the resumption of peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The US has also urged Israel to do more to prevent civilian casualties, but the toll in Gaza has continued to mount at seemingly the same dizzying rate.

Many experts consider Israel’s aim to crush Hamas to be unrealistic, pointing to Hamas’ deep base of support among many Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, who see it as resisting Israel’s half-century of occuping rule.

Even just destroying Hamas’ military capability “will be a tall order without decimating what remains of Gaza,” said the International Crisis Group, a think tank, in a report over the weekend that also called for an immediate cease-fire.

Israeli officials clamied that some 7,000 Hamas fighters, roughly one-quarter of the group’s estimated fighting force, have been killed and that 500 have been detained in Gaza over the past month. 

Hamas says it still has thousands of reserve fighters. None of the claims could be verified.

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