Israeli defense minister unveils 'post-war' plan, without 'Israeli civilian presence' in Gaza

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant presented to the press on Thursday, January 4 evening, the broad outlines of his first “post-war” plan in the Gaza Strip. He must then submit it to the war cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, divided in recent weeks over the course of action to follow in the war against the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, in power in the enclave since 2007.

According to the plan, operations in the Gaza Strip “will continue” until “the return of the hostages,” “the dismantling of Hamas’ military and governance capabilities,” and “the elimination of military threats in the Gaza Strip.” “, argued Mr. Gallant. After which another phase will begin, that of the “day after” the war according to which “Hamas will not control Gaza”.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir called on Monday for a return of Jewish settlers to Gaza after the war and to “encourage” the Palestinian population to emigrate, following a similar call from his far-right colleague, Bezalel Smotrich.

“The people of Gaza are Palestinians.”

But “there will be no Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip after the objectives of the war have been achieved,” declared Mr. Gallant, specifying that the Israeli army would however retain “its freedom of action” in Gaza to curb any possible “threat” there.

“The people of Gaza are Palestinians. Therefore Palestinian entities will be in charge [of management] on the condition that there is no hostile action or threat against the State of Israel,” affirmed the Minister of Defense without specifying which of the Palestinians , should administer this territory of 2.4 million inhabitants.

In recent weeks, analysts have discussed different scenarios such as the return to the Gaza Strip, after the war, of Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA), which currently sits in the occupied West Bank.

However, according to a recent poll by the Center for Palestinian Policy and Polling Research (PCPSR), an independent institute in Ramallah, nearly two-thirds of Palestinians surveyed (64%) believe that Hamas will retain control of Gaza after the fighting ends. . Some 11% of respondents predict a PA government but without Mahmoud Abbas and barely 7% with the latter.

Antony Blinken visits again

In an interview with the Financial Times, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh, however, pleaded in favor of a “political solution for all of Palestine” and not just Gaza. “People are starting to talk about the ‘day after,’ about the PA ruling Gaza again,” but Israel “wants to politically separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank,” he said.

He added: “We need to look at the calendar and cross off 2024. (…) I don’t think Israel is going to leave Gaza soon, rather I believe Israel is going to create its own civil administration which will operate under the authority of its army of occupation. Therefore, the question of “the day after” is not clear [at the moment].”

The unveiling of the Gallant plan comes on the eve of a new visit to the Middle East by the head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, which aims, among other things, to avoid a spread of the war between Israel and Hamas.