Israeli leadership split over plans for governing Gaza after war with Hamas: reports



A growing fissure in Israeli leadership over the lack of any concrete plans for governing Gaza after the war with Hamas concludes now threatens the Jewish state’s governing coalition, according to reports. 

On Saturday, Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz warned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if no plan for post-war governance in the embattled Palestinian territory is approved by June 8, he would resign.

“Personal and political considerations have begun to enter the most sacred parts of Israel’s security considerations,” Gantz said at the press conference, Haaretz reported.

“The Netanyahu of a decade ago would have done the right thing. Are you willing to do the right and patriotic thing today?” he continued. “The people of Israel are watching you. You must choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and factionalism, between responsibility and lawlessness – and between victory and disaster.”

In his ultimatum, the centrist lawmaker demanded the government adopt a six-point plan that includes ending Hamas’ rule, securing the return of hostages, demilitarizing Gaza and creating a joint international administration to handle the territory’s civilian affairs.

The lawmaker’s threat came just days after Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, another member of the war cabinet, tore into Prime Minister Benjamin for failing to rule out Israel’s involvement in governing the Palestinian enclave post-war and demanded he provide an alternative to Hamas’ leadership.

“The ‘day after Hamas’ will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas’s rule,” Gallant said, The Times of Israel reported. “Unfortunately, this issue was not raised for discussion, and worse, no alternative was brought up in its place.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for refusing to rule out Israel’s involvement in governing Gaza post-war Getty Images

“I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military administration in Gaza. Israel must not exercise civilian control in Gaza,” he added.

In addition to Gantz, Gallant’s broadside against Netanyahu’s hazy post-war plans for Gaza’s leadership received support from fellow cabinet member Gadi Eisenkot, a former army generals. Leaders of the far-right religious nationalist parties, meanwhile, ripped the defense minister for his statements. 

Should Gantz pull his party from the coalition, that would push Netanyahu even closer to his far-right allies, who hold a harder line on the war with Hamas and believe Israel should occupy Gaza and build Jewish settlements there.

“Defense Minister Gallant announced today his support for the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state as a reward for terrorism and Hamas for the most terrible massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” said far-right Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who heads the Religious Zionist Party

Alongside the heightened pressure from his cabinet members, Netanyahu is facing heat from the United States to bring a swift end to the now-seven-month-old conflict.

Washington has previously suggested letting a “revitalized” form of the Palestinian Authority govern the embattled enclave, but Netanyahu batted down the suggestion, claiming on Thursday the PA “supports terror, educates terror, finances terror,” and instead reiterated his goal of “eliminating” Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a ceremony
Netanyahu batted down the suggestion that the Palestinian Authority lead Gaza post-fighting via REUTERS

The absence of any clear plans for governance only benefits Hamas, whose leadership has insisted authority over the Palestinian territory would require the terrorist group’s involvement.

“If only Hamas is left in Gaza, of course they are going to appear here and there and the Israeli army will be forced to chase them around,” Emmanuel Navon, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, told AFP.

“Either you establish an Israeli military government or an Arab-led government.”

With Post wires. 

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