US would object to 'buffer zone' inside Gaza: State Dept

US would object to 'buffer zone' inside Gaza: State Dept
The US follows Turkey's position in rejecting plans to establish a post-war buffer zone in Gaza
3 min read
07 December, 2023
Reuters reported last week that Israel had conveyed plans for the buffer zone to several Arab states and Turkey [Getty]

The US would object to any proposed buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip as it would violate Washington's position that the size of the Palestinian enclave must not be reduced after the current conflict, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday.

News agency Reuters previously reported that Israel had informed several Arab states that it wants to carve out a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of Gaza's border, as it claimed that it would be done to prevent future attacks as part of proposals for the enclave after the war ends.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, Miller said among Washington's guiding principles for the future of Gaza was its opposition to any reduction in the densely populated enclave's territory.

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"So if any proposed buffer zone was inside Gaza, that would be a violation of that principle and something we oppose. If it’s with respect to something within Israeli territory I won't speak to that- that’s a decision for the Israelis to make," Miller told reporters.

There would have to be a transition period after the end of major combat operations, Miller said, to avoid a "security vacuum" but it would have to be temporary, although he was not able to describe the parameters of what such a period would look like.

Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan had also said that Israel establishing a post-war buffer zone in Gaza would be disrespectful to Palestinians.

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Doha, Erdogan said Gaza's governance and future after the war would be decided by Palestinians alone.

"I consider even the debating of this (buffer-zone) plan as disrespectful to my Palestinian siblings. For us, this is not a plan that can be debated, considered, or discussed," Erdogan's office quoted him as saying.

Calling for Israel to hand back territories it occupies and end settlements in those territories, he said: "Israel must remove the terrorists - which it markets to the world as settlers - from those houses and those lands, and think about how it can build a peaceful future with Palestinians."

Unlike the US's close relationship with Israel, Ankara has sharply criticised Israel's military campaign in Gaza and supports a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Erdogan said Israel had become "the West's spoiled child", and blamed Western support for Israel for the situation in the region.

Since Hamas' October 7 attack, Israel has conducted a relentless bombing campaign and ground offensive which has destroyed large areas of Gaza and killed, according to the Palestinian health ministry, more than 16,000 people.