Israel's Netanyahu says there will be no occupation of Gaza, still hopes for Saudi normalisation

Israel's Netanyahu says there will be no occupation of Gaza, still hopes for Saudi normalisation
Appearing to contradict earlier comments, Netanyahu said that Israel does not seek to occupy or govern Gaza and that he still hoped for a normalisation deal with Saudi Arabia.
3 min read
10 November, 2023
Netanyahu was earlier rebuked by Blinken for saying that Israel will have 'indefinite security responsibility' for Gaza[Photo by ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Israel will not govern Gaza in the aftermath of Israel's war on the besieged Palestinian enclave in a new interview, adding that he is still hopeful for normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Netanyahu said, "we don't seek to conquer Gaza, we don't seek to occupy Gaza and we don't seek to govern Gaza."

This seemed to contradict previous comments to ABC News in which he said, "Israel will for an indefinite period have the overall security responsibility," in Gaza. This line was rebuked by US secretary of State Anthony Blinken who stated there would be no "reoccupation of Gaza" by Israel after the war.

However, Netanyahu also told Fox News that "we have to have credible force that, if necessary, will enter Gaza and kill the killers. Because that's what will prevent the reemergence of a Hamas-like entity."

He said that Israel will find a new "civilian government" for the besieged and bombed territory. Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip have so far killed over 10,800 civilians, mostly women and children, and destroyed over half of the residential homes there, forcing thousands of people to flee south.


US officials have stated that the Ramallah-based, Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) should return to Gaza in order to govern the territory, with Blinken stating that that a post-war Gaza "must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority."

Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it defeated forces affiliated with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority following a bitter conflict.

Top Palestinian officials, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas, say a return to Gaza must be accompanied by a political solution that ends Israel's occupation of territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Palestinian Authority  Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told PBS earlier this week that the PA would not return to Gaza "on the back of an Israeli tank."

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During the interview with Fox News Netanyahu also said that he thought a normalisation agreement with Saudi Arabia was still likely to occur, saying "that promise of peace, that we first branched out in the Abraham Accords, and we were about to expand further with peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia, I think it'll be a reality."

The two countries had been negotiating an agreement, through the mediation of the US, prior to 7 October Hamas assault on southern Israel which killed 1,400 Israelis.

 "I think conditions will be ripe. In fact after a victory I think they will be even riper," he added.

Saudi Investment Minister Khalif Al-Falih on Wednesday said that a normalisation deal was "on the table" adding that "obviously the setback over the last month has clarified why Saudi Arabia was so adamant that resolution of the Palestinian conflict has to be part of a broader normalisation in the Middle East."

(Reuters contributed to this report)