Israel now willing to discuss post-war Gaza, U.S. officials say

People gather around a fire near the rubble of a building in war-torn Gaza.
Palestinians gather around an evening fire amid the rubble left by Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, Gaza. Photo: Abed Zagout/Anadolu via Getty Images

Israel is showing more willingness to discuss plans for Gaza after the war, according to two U.S. officials with direct knowledge of talks this week between the Israeli government and the Biden administration.

Why it matters: President Biden’s team has been pressing Israel since the early stages of the war to make a plan for what will happen in Gaza after the conflict that began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and has resulted in more than 15,000 deaths in Gaza.

  • The U.S. wants to avoid a governing and security vacuum in Gaza after the war that might allow Hamas rise again, the U.S. officials said.
  • In the talks this week with Vice President Kamala Harris’ national security adviser, Phil Gordon, Israeli officials who had been focused on fighting the war were “ready to talk about the future” in Gaza, a senior U.S. official said.
  • The administration also has expressed concern that Israel might continue its military ground operation in southern Gaza as it has in the northern part of the enclave.

Driving the news: Vice President Kamala Harris’ national security adviser, Phil Gordon, is visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority this week to discuss “day-after” scenarios and plans.

  • He is accompanied by Harris’ Middle East adviser Ilan Goldenberg, who is deeply involved in the interagency planning about how Gaza would be governed after Hamas is ousted.
  • The White House officials arrived in Israel from Dubai where they accompanied Harris in her meetings with the leaders of the UAE, Egypt and Jordan on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit. Her discussions in Dubai focused on the day-after in Gaza.
  • In Israel, Harris’ advisers met Israeli President Isaac Herzog, war Cabinet member Benny Gantz, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, minister Gadi Eisenkot, who is an observer in the war Cabinet, and opposition leader Yair Lapid.

Behind the scenes: The U.S. officials said the group discussed military objectives and operations in Gaza.

  • “Gordon emphasized to the Israelis that Hamas is a barbaric terrorist organization and that no nation could accept the threat Hamas poses, and that we support Israel’s legitimate military objectives and its right to defend itself,” one of the U.S. officials said.
  • Gordon also underscored the importance of adhering to international humanitarian law, and the need to increase humanitarian assistance and protect civilians during Israel’s ground operation into southern Gaza, the official added.
  • The U.S. officials said Gordon updated the Israelis about Harris’ talks in Dubai with Arab leaders about what happens after the war ends in Gaza and presented what Harris publicly laid out for how the administration sees the reconstruction, security, and governance in Gaza after the fighting is over.

Between the lines: Gordon’s trip to Israel is the latest in a series of visits by senior U.S. officials who have been there every week since the war started.

  • U.S. officials want to “be there every week so that we are able to engage the Israelis and Palestinians face to face on the issue of the day-after,” a third U.S. official said.

What they’re saying: The first two U.S. officials said Gordon told his Israeli counterparts that the U.S. wants to have a plan for Gaza’s future to avoid allowing Hamas “to come back to life.”

  • “There was movement on the Israeli side from a point where they were only focused on the fighting, and refused to discuss the day-after to a point where they are ready to talk about the future,” a senior U.S. official said.

A senior Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have been discussing the issue of post-war Gaza for weeks, and that there’d been no change in Israel’s approach.

  • The U.S. officials acknowledged there are still differences between how the U.S. sees Gaza after the war and how Israel sees it — mainly around the question of what role the Palestinian Authority will play.
  • On Tuesday, Netanyahu pushed back against the idea of the Palestinian Authority having a future role, stressing that the only way to make sure post-war Gaza is demilitarized is for the Israel Defense Forces — not international troops — to oversee that process.
  • “Nobody thinks the Palestinian Authority in its current state could run Gaza and provide security, but nobody sees at the moment any alternative to a Palestinian leadership in Gaza after the war,” one U.S. official said.
  • “We think we need to strengthen the Palestinian Authority so that it could govern Gaza.”

Zoom in: The Biden administration worries that steps Israel has taken since the war — such as withholding much of the tax revenue it collects for the PA — has weakened the authority’s ability to be effective.

  • “I’ve been working with a number of people in and out of government to figure, what after Gaza,” President Biden said Tuesday. “I think the only available solution is a two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinians.

What’s next: Gordon and Goldenberg will visit Ramallah on Wednesday to meet with senior Palestinian Authority officials.

  • “We have a lot of work to do to bring everybody on the same page, including the Palestinians,” the official said. “It is not going be easy.”
December 6, 2023 | 14 Comments »

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14 Comments / 14 Comments

  1. Perhaps end it on condition

    1 must remove all.gazans

    2. Because if they stay HAMAS WILL QUICKLY RECONSTITUTE ITSELF

    THEREFORE…

  2. Vivarto I like your point. There is a long history of Nazis in Ukraine and excepting Stalinism much time of great life saving unity between Lenin and Trotsky and Jews. Putin
    Needs a good wish from Jews of a considered friendship and what you suggest could not be bettered.

    Quote

    making a deal with Russia and becoming neutral, with friendly relations to both, and dependance on neither.

  3. Haaretz:

    As far as the war is concerned, it seems so far that Israel has accepted most of the administration’s demands, even if in some cases, implementation has been slower than Washington would like to see.

    Israel realizes that acquiescing to these American demands will enable Biden to continue to back its offensive. Biden is under heavy pressure from both within the Democratic Party and on the international arena to end his total support for Israel and begin working toward a permanent ceasefire to stop the war.

  4. If Israel can get Gaza without the Palestinians, that would be the perfect solution. Unfortunately, the UN and all our “friends” will not let us get away with that. The whole world is happy to send aid in various forms to the Palestinians but no one is willing to allow them to migrate to their countries. This is nothing more than speaking with a split tongue out of both sides of their mouths. This is especially true of the so-called US officials (the B team) who come to distract leaders at war. I noticed that Bibi wasn’t mentioned in this context. This means that he has been assigned to the elephant cemetery or he has managed to convince those officials that he will not waste his time with them.

  5. Israel must except the fact that the land is theirs. It is their responsibility to govern and control it. US and Nato and all others should “butt out” and the sooner this is excepted the sooner peace will come. Israel needs to tell them to “Butt out.”

    Egypt is still not a friend to Israel. They alone are responsible for all the tunnels and armaments in Gaza. Egypt should not be trusted.

    Israel if they want peace must control the land and punish by exportation or death anyone who breaks the peace.

    As Ted said. “This is Israeli land. San Remo says so. The Palestinian Mandate says so. the UN Charter says so. Nothing has changed.” and I will add — GOD and His TORAH says so!

  6. Unfortunately the Government of Israel has not said it wants to annex Gaza san Palestinians wheras a number of Israeli movements anhd experts are calling for it.

    The Government of Israel has said they want security control over Gaza and even suggested some ideas.

  7. The only solution for Gaza is not to allow the Palestinians to return to the northern 80% and for the international community to arrange for their immigration. Anything short of that won’t bring peace.

    Look at the failure of Res 1701. Now the U S ajnd the UN want to dictate what is to happen in Gaza.

    Remember the Rafah Agreement they forced on Israel, only to have the PA force the UN to get out and took over.

    This is Israeli land. San Remo says so. The Palestinian Mandate says so. the UN Charter says so. Nothing has changed.

  8. Vivarto

    Israel and.Jews are not standing alone. Trump got 80 millions of votes many of which support Israel against Biden

    You have just expressed the big lie. This lie is always told to Jews to dispirit the Jews.

    Jews are NOT isolated!!!

  9. This development is huge affirmation of the point made to Reader. We do not agree with Netanyahu but in politics often you have to defend people you don’t agree with. We maintain our differences but we defend him against Imperialism and Fascism. This is very important to understand

  10. @FelixQuigley

    No section of the American ruling class has any rights whatsoever in Israel. Listen you Ukrainian Nazi supporting criminals BUTT OUT

    We are not strong enough to stand alone.

  11. @FelixQuigley

    It has come down to the biggest question of all time…how to protect the sovereignty of Israel the Jewish State from American Imperialism.

    By making a deal with Russia and becoming neutral, with friendly relations to both, and dependance on neither.

  12. It has come down to the biggest question of all time…how to protect the sovereignty of Israel the Jewish State from American Imperialism.

    These American scumbags are circling around Netanyahu using these Israeli scumbags all of whom were prominent in the traitor class involved in the previous traitorous protest movement. The most vigorous defence of Netanyahu is now both necessary and urgent. This has to be taken into the rank and file of the IDF as well as the working class trade unions. It has to be linked to defence of the Settlers (the Jewish villages in Judea and Samaria) inside of a massive movement to defend Israeli sovereignty.

  13. No section of the American ruling class has any rights whatsoever in Israel

    Listen you Ukrainian Nazi supporting criminals BUTT OUT