Israeli control of Gaza doesn't 'make sense', US Nat Sec Adviser Jake Sullivan says

Israeli control of Gaza doesn't 'make sense', US Nat Sec Adviser Jake Sullivan says
Sullivan's comments are in direct contradiction to Israeli officials, who continue to lay out a vision of an Israeli-controlled Gaza.
3 min read
16 December, 2023
Sullivan was keen to stress that Israel doesn't seek to reoccupy Gaza, but this was contradicted by Israeli officials the day before his visit [Getty]

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday it would neither “make sense” nor be “right” for Israel to reoccupy Gaza, as American and Israeli officials continue to push contradictory visions of the enclave’s future, as reported by the Financial Times.

Speaking at a press briefing in Tel Aviv, Sullivan claimed Israel did not “have a long-term plan to occupy Gaza”, and clarified that the US was having “intensive” discussions with Israel over the timeframe of the transition to a new Palestinian administration in Gaza and how it should occur. But he insisted that the US position on Gaza’s future was “clear”.

“We do not believe that it makes sense for Israel or is right for Israel to occupy Gaza, reoccupy Gaza over the long term, and  we would like to see ultimately that transition take place,” Sullivan said.

Live Story

The Biden’s administration has said that the Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers parts of the occupied West Bank and ran Gaza until 2007, should play a key role in the strip once Israel has concluded its military activities.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly ruled out a return of the PA or any Palestinian-run government to Gaza. On Thursday, Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said plainly that Israel would maintain full security control of the strip and that this would involve “taking territory” to provide a launch pad for future military operations.

Israeli rejectionism

The intransigence of Israeli officials to a role for the PA in Gaza is considered to arise from their rejection of the idea of a Palestinian state. On Thursday, Tzipi Hotovely, the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, said to Sky News that there was “absolutely no” prospect of Israel’s government agreeing to a two-state solution — which would involve the recognition of a Palestinian state.

Opposition to a two-state solution appears to be the broad consensus right across Israel’s political spectrum, but is particularly entrenched in Netanyahu’s far-right coalition.

Sullivan met several senior Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, and was due to travel to the West Bank later on Friday to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, where he said he expected to discuss how to reform the PA.

However, Sullivan dodged a question on whether he thought the 88-year-old Abbas was the right person to run it, given he and the PA in general are hugely unpopular across the West Bank and Gaza.

“At a basic level, we do believe that the PA needs to be revamped and revitalised, needs to be updated in terms of its method of governance, its representation of the Palestinian people,” he said as quoted by the FT.

Sullivan further asserted that ultimately it must be “up to the Palestinian people to work through their representation”.

Israel's war on Gaza has left over 18,800 Palestinians dead, the vast majority of whom are civilians, including at least 8000 children.