Tensions within the Israeli government over the post-war in Gaza – 05/15/2024 at 8:56 p.m.

Tensions within the Israeli government over the post-war in Gaza – 05/15/2024 at 8:56 p.m.
Tensions within the Israeli government over the post-war in Gaza – 05/15/2024 at 8:56 p.m.

by Dan Williams

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been publicly questioned for his post-war plans for the Gaza Strip by his own Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, who has voiced his opposition to an Israeli military occupation of the enclave on the long term.

Yoav Gallant’s comments, during a press briefing broadcast live on television and radio, mark the most significant challenge to date by a senior Israeli representative of Benjamin Netanyahu’s management of the conflict.

They come in a context of increased political differences in Israel and with the Jewish state’s main allies over the offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Responding to his Defense Minister’s comments, without explicitly naming him, Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that Yoav Gallant was trying to find “excuses” for not yet managing to eradicate Hamas, more than seven months after the start of operations. military carried out in the Gaza Strip in retaliation for the attack of October 7.

But Yoav Gallant then appeared to receive support from Benny Gantz, the third high-ranking member of the war cabinet set up in October, who declared that the defense minister “told the truth.”

Yoav Gallant reiterated the objectives set by Benjamin Netanyahu – to defeat Hamas and free the hostages still held since the October 7 attack -, while emphasizing the need to prepare the foundations for an alternative Palestinian authority to Hamas in the Strip. Gaza.

“We must dismantle Hamas’s governance capabilities in Gaza. The key to this is military action and the establishment of alternative governance in Gaza,” Yoav Gallant said.

“In the absence of such an alternative, only two options remain: the rule of Hamas in Gaza or the rule of the Israeli army in Gaza,” he added, specifying that he would oppose this second scenario and urging Benjamin Netanyahu to formally exclude this hypothesis.

The Minister of Defense indicated that he had been trying since last October to promote the project of a “non-hostile Palestinian governance alternative”. He said he had “no response” from the Netanyahu government.

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This questioning by the Israeli Prime Minister recalls, both in substance and form, the warning launched in March 2023 by Yoav Gallant on the potential dangers of the justice reform desired by Benjamin Netanyahu for Israeli military cohesion.

At the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, with unprecedented longevity as Prime Minister, announced that he was going to dismiss Yoav Gallant, before changing his mind, while vast demonstrations against the justice reform project shook the country.

Some defense analysts believe that Hamas’ ability to take the Israeli army by surprise to carry out last October’s attack confirmed Yoav Gallant’s prediction.

Asked Wednesday about a potential fear of being sacked, Yoav Gallant said “don’t blame anyone.” “In a democratic country, it seems to me, it is appropriate for a person, especially the Minister of Defense, to make his position public,” he added.

Yoav Gallant’s position echoes that of Israel’s main ally, the United States, which has raised the possibility that the Palestinian Authority, based in the occupied West Bank where it has restricted prerogatives, would play a role in Gaza after the war.

Benjamin Netanyahu says he is against this hypothesis, describing the Palestinian Authority as a hostile entity. He repeated this in the video statement posted on social media just an hour after Yoav Gallant’s comments.

Before considering new governance in Gaza, Hamas must first be eliminated, declared the Israeli Prime Minister, asking to achieve this objective without finding “excuses”.

The ultra-nationalist partners of the ruling coalition are demanding the dismantling of the Palestinian Authority and new settlements in the Gaza Strip, a position having given rise to quarrels with Yoav Gallant, like Benjamin Netanyahu, from the Likud.

Benjamin Netanyahu has said in the past that Israel would retain security responsibility for the Gaza Strip after the war, without saying more about his plans for the fighting-ravaged Palestinian enclave.

Hamas, whose indirect negotiations with Israel on a ceasefire and the release of hostages are at an impasse, repeats its opposition to any scenario in which it would be excluded from the Gaza Strip.

(Dan Williams; French version Jean Terzian)

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