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Netanyahu’s ‘Principles’ for Post-War Gaza Governance

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put before the security cabinet, last night, a document of “principles” for the future governance of Gaza which amounts to little more than re-occupation of the Gaza Strip but through willing Palestinian proxies, if Israel can find any. The plan, reports Times of Israel, aims to install “local officials” unaffiliated with “terrorism” to administer services in the Strip instead of Hamas. The subsequently publicized document, a one-pager released overnight in Israel, is largely a collection of principles that Netanyahu has been vocalizing since the beginning of the war, but it is the first time they have formally been presented to the cabinet for approval.

Times of Israel notes that the document does not specifically name the Palestinian Authority or rule out its participation in the post-war governance of Gaza. Instead, it says that civil affairs in Gaza will be run by “local officials” who have “administrative experience” and who are not tied to “countries or entities that support terrorism.”

The document makes clear that the war in Gaza will continue until the hostages are returned and the long-term removal of any security threat from Gaza Strip. The IDF will maintain an indefinite freedom to operate throughout the entire Strip to prevent the resurgence of “terror activity,” the document says, describing this as an intermediate-term principle.

The plan states that Israel will move forward with its already-in-motion project to establish a security buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the Strip’s border, adding that it will remain in place “as long as there is a security need for it.”

Netanyahu’s plan envisions Gaza’s “complete demilitarization … beyond what is required for the needs of maintaining public order.” It adds that Israel will be responsible for realizing this goal for the foreseeable future, potentially leaving the door open for other forces to finish the job down the line.

In addition to the “local officials” whom Netanyahu envisions being responsible for public order and for providing civil services, the document adds that Israel will also promote a “de-radicalization plan … in all religious, educational and welfare institutions in Gaza.” This, too, will be advanced “as much as possible with the involvement and assistance of Arab countries that have experience in promoting de-radicalization.”

Not surprisingly, the Palestinian Authority has rejected Netanyahu’s plan, with the Palestinian Foreign Ministry calling it “a plan to prolong the genocide against our people and an attempt to gain more time to implement the displacement plans.”

Additionally, it is “a blatant maneuver to intercept and thwart American and international efforts made to link stopping the war and releasing prisoners and hostages to resolving the conflict and embodying the Palestinian state on the ground.”

Palestine’s Foreign Ministry called on the U.S. and other Western countries to recognize Palestine as an independent state and allow it to become a UN member state and hold an international peace conference in order to “end the occupation and enable our people to exercise their right to self-determination freely and with dignity.”