What Netanyahu plans for the Gaza Strip

As of: February 23, 2024 12:54 p.m

A demilitarized area with a buffer zone to Israel, a civilian administration without terrorist connections: Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently presented a plan for Gaza after the war.

According to Israeli media reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented a plan that describes the future of the Gaza Strip – as well as the goals of the Gaza war: the destruction of the military capabilities and administrative structures of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the return of the hostages. The paper states that the Gaza Strip should no longer pose a threat.

Preparations are apparently underway

According to Netanyahu’s ideas, Israel must therefore retain “operational freedom” in the Gaza Strip even after the war until further notice. This is also likely to be about the future deployment of Israeli soldiers in Gaza. There is talk of a “security zone” in the Gaza Strip on the border with Israel.

According to reports, Israeli units have been in the process of setting up a buffer zone around one kilometer wide for weeks and systematically destroying buildings in this area. Aerial photographs also show the construction of roads that could allow the Israeli military easy access to the area even after the war.

Control over the entire area

Regarding the southern border with Egypt, it is said that it should be secured in cooperation with Egypt and with the help of the USA in such a way that smuggling into the Gaza Strip – for example of weapons – is prevented. The Gaza Strip should become a “demilitarized” area after the war – and Israel should then have the mandate to ensure this.

The paper repeats Netanyahu’s old demand: Israel must maintain security control over the entire area west of the Jordan. This includes not only the Gaza Strip, but also the West Bank, which is occupied in violation of international law.

The role of UNRWA

The financing of terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip should be stopped in the future. It said Israel would also work to close the Palestine refugee agency, UNRWA, and transfer its functions to other international aid organizations.

Israel had submitted documents intended to prove that UNRWA employees took part in the terrorist attack on October 7th. The UN organization had already been criticized by Hamas and other terrorist organizations before the attack. Israel is fundamentally disturbed by UNRWA’s mission and sees the organization’s work as perpetuating the Palestinian refugee problem.

However, the status of almost six million Palestinians in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon has been unclear for decades. UNRWA said it had taken action against individual employees in the Gaza Strip and has firmly rejected the accusation of supporting terrorism.

Direct negotiations without preconditions

At the civilian level, the paper envisages administration by representatives from the Gaza Strip with experience in this area. However, the prerequisite is a de-radicalization of the population with the help of Arab states. The reconstruction of the area can only begin once this process has been initiated and the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed.

The reconstruction should be financed and carried out according to Netanyahu’s ideas of states that are “acceptable to Israel”. The paper once again emphasizes that a solution with the Palestinians can only be achieved in direct negotiations without preconditions – steps by other states such as the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state are categorically rejected.

Accommodation on the one hand

In the plan that has now apparently been presented, Netanyahu is complying with a demand from the military leadership in Israel, but also from several states: Israeli security circles have repeatedly said that without such a plan, the military successes of the Israeli armed forces could be jeopardized, for example by Hamas regains control in areas from which troops have already withdrawn.

And states like the USA, but also Germany, had repeatedly called for prospects for the people in the Gaza Strip and a plan for reconstruction.

Opposites on the other hand

However, some of the points in the paper are in stark contrast to ideas from outside: The USA is proposing to place the administration of the Gaza Strip in the hands of a newly established Palestinian Authority.

Arab states have linked a commitment to reconstruction to a concrete perspective on a Palestinian state. And the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas rejects any settlement over the heads of the Palestinians.

The paper that Prime Minister Netanyahu presented does not take these objections into account or rather explicitly opposes them.

Jan-Christoph Kitzler, ARD Tel Aviv, tagesschau, February 23, 2024 12:01 p.m

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