Palestinians can manage Gaza civil affairs following war, says Israel's Gallant

Palestinians can manage Gaza civil affairs following war, says Israel's Gallant
Israel's defence minister has put forward a plan that could see Palestinians take control of Gaza's civil affairs when the Israeli onslaught is over.
4 min read
05 January, 2024
Gallant (right) has said any Palestinian party but Hamas could be nominated to manage Gaza [Getty]

Palestinians will manage the civil affairs of the Gaza Strip alongside a global task force when the war is over, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday.

"Israel will not take civilian control of Gaza the day after the war," Gallant was quoted as saying by the official Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

As part of his so-called "day after" plans for a post-war Gaza, Gallant said any Palestinian party other than Hamas could be nominated to manage the affairs of the Gaza Strip.

The matter of which authority will govern Gaza once Israel ends its onslaught on the territory has been a point of contention between Israeli officials, and between Israel and its strongest ally, the US.

Israel’s unprecedented bombardment of Gaza has killed over 22,600 people and left the territory in ruins.

There are even fears that Gaza's 2.3 million inhabitants may be forcibly expelled, as called for by some far-right Israeli ministers.

Israel to retain military control

Gallant’s plan would have Israel overseeing Gaza’s security, with full military control of the coastal strip’s border and the power to decides who enters and who leaves the territory – as has been the status quo for the past 17 or so years.

According to the plan, Israel would have the "right" to take any military action it deems necessary in Gaza, even after seeing through the eradication of Hamas.

The plan does not include a role for the Palestinian Authority (PA) that currently in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

It also does not mention resettling Gaza with Jewish settlers, as put forward by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

"Gaza residents are Palestinian, therefore Palestinian bodies will be in charge, with the condition that there will be no hostile actions or threats against the State of Israel," Gallant told journalists.

A change in tone?

While Gallant’s plan does not see Hamas nor the PA taking control of Gaza, it does give way for Palestinians to oversee the area’s civil affairs, like in the occupied West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other far-right officials have in the past rejected any plans that would see Palestinians take charge of Gaza following the war.

Netanyahu reportedly said during a closed-door meeting in December that both Hamas and Fatah wanted to destroy Israel -despite him previously having had relatively good ties with the Fatah-run PA.

The Israeli premier, who is being tried in Israel over corruption cases, had backtracked on an earlier stance he made in November that Israel would have indefinite security control over Gaza.

Washington has said it was in favour of a rejuvenated PA governing Gaza, with new, trusted officials that can garner international respect. US President Joe Biden has said Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under the PA.

Arab leaders have rejected the proposal of an international force being stationed in Gaza.

Internal differences

There is a deepening rift between Israel’s officials over what Gaza’s future will look like following the devastating war.

One official who has made public his desire to see Palestinians expelled from Gaza is extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

"Gallant’s 'day after' plan is a re-run of the 'day before' October 7," Smotrich said in response to the defence minister’s plan, referring to the day Hamas carried out a surprise attack in southern Israel that killed more than 1,000 people and saw over 200 others taken hostage.

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Smotrich reiterated his previous stances on Gaza, saying "voluntary" emigration from the enclave should be encouraged. He said that he wants to see Gaza’s Palestinian population replaced by Jewish Israelis.

Israel removed its settlements from Gaza in 2005 upon withdrawing from the enclave, but has expanded them in the occupied West Bank in violation of international law.