US opposes ‘reoccupation’ of Gaza after Netanyahu talks of ‘indefinite’ control

After war, Blinken seeks ‘Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority,’ no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism, no blockade or reduction in Gaza’s territory

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday called on Israel not to reoccupy the Gaza Strip once its war with Hamas ends.

His remarks came amid a flurry of statements from Washington officials against such a scenario after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will have “indefinite” overall security control of the Palestinian enclave once it has destroyed Hamas and removed it from power.

War erupted on October 7 when hordes of Hamas terrorists from Gaza invaded Israel, massacring over 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and abducting at least 240 men, women, and children, who are being held captive in Gaza. The attack came under the cover of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli population centers. Israel has responded with a military campaign while vowing to eradicate Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.

Speaking to reporters after G7 foreign ministers held talks in Japan, Blinken listed what he said was needed in order to create “durable peace and security.”

“The United States believes key elements should include: no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war; no use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks; no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends,” Blinken said.

He said other conditions included no “attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza” or any “reduction in the territory of Gaza.”

It appeared to be the first time that a US official had publicly made these two points after long avoiding any criticism of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which Jerusalem says is necessary to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Strip. Human rights groups say the policy has stymied the enclave’s economy significantly.

The call for Israel not to take over Gaza territory after the war also flies in the face of comments by Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Eli Cohen, who have indicated that the IDF will have to establish some sort of buffer zone within the Strip to better secure the border.

What Gaza should have is “Palestinian governance, Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority… a sustained mechanism for reconstruction in Gaza, and a pathway” to a two-state solution, he said.

Asked about Netanyahu’s comments on Israel assuming security responsibility in Gaza indefinitely, Blinken allowed that “there may be a need for some transition period.”

The Israel Defense Forces, alongside intensive airstrikes on Hamas’s terror infrastructure, has pressed forward with a forceful ground incursion in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

Israel has vowed to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities — but neither Israel nor its main ally, the United States, has said what would come next. Officials in the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority have repeatedly said they will not take responsibility for Gaza unless it is part of a broader peace agreement that includes the West Bank and paves the way to statehood.

Netanyahu told ABC News that Gaza should be governed by “those who don’t want to continue the way of Hamas,” without elaborating.

“I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have it. When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine,” he said.

Netanyahu did not make clear what shape that security control would take. He dismissed suggestions there was any daylight between him and US President Joe Biden regarding the war, saying he agreed with the US call for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza and was coordinating with Washington on the issue. Last month Biden said it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to reoccupy Gaza.

The White House reiterated Tuesday that Biden, who made a one-day solidarity visit last month, does not support an Israeli reoccupation of the Gaza Strip after the war.

“President Biden’s been very clear we don’t support a reoccupation of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, adding that he would leave it to Netanyahu to clarify what he means by “indefinite.”

“We do think that there needs to be a healthy set of conversations about what post-conflict Gaza looks like and what governance looks like,” he continued.

“What we absolutely agree with our Israeli counterparts on is what it can’t look like. And it can’t look like it looked on October 6th,” Kirby said.

During his television interview, Netanyahu said Israel is prepared to allow “tactical little pauses” for humanitarian reasons, which Kirby told reporters is “in keeping with the conversations that we’ve been having.”

Palestinians look at buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, November 7, 2023. (Hatem Moussa/AP)

US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel also told reporters, “Our viewpoint is that Palestinians must be at the forefront of these decisions and Gaza is Palestinian land and it will remain Palestinian land.”

“Generally speaking, we do not support the reoccupation of Gaza and neither does Israel,” he said.

Patel said that the United States agrees “there is no returning to the October 6 status quo,” referring to the day before Hamas’s massive onslaught.

“Israel and the region must be secure and Gaza should and can no longer be a base from which to launch terror attacks against the people of Israel or anyone else,” Patel said.

Israeli officials say the offensive against Hamas will last for some time and acknowledge that they have not yet formulated a concrete plan for what comes after the war. The defense minister has said Israel does not seek a long-term reoccupation of Gaza but predicted a lengthy phase of low-intensity fighting against “pockets of resistance.” Other officials have spoken about establishing a buffer zone that would keep Palestinians away from the Israeli border.

“There are a number of options being discussed for The Day After Hamas,” said Ophir Falk, a senior adviser to Netanyahu. “The common denominator of all the plans is that 1) there is no Hamas 2) that Gaza is demilitarized 3) Gaza is de-radicalized.”

Israeli soldiers remove bodies of Israeli civilians killed by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The Hamas-run health ministry claims that more than 10,300 Gazans have been killed since the start of the war, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes Hamas terror operatives and those killed by failed Palestinian rocket launches at Israel. Hamas has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll, and does not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives.

Israel withdrew troops and settlers in 2005 but kept control over Gaza’s airspace, coastline, population registry and border crossings, excepting one into Egypt. Hamas seized power from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007. Since then, Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza to varying degrees.

Since Israel withdrew its military and evacuated its settlements in Gaza nearly two decades ago, it has faced frequent bouts of rocket attacks from the Strip as well as the threat of offensive attack tunnels dug under the border. The rocket attacks, which began before the 2005 disengagement but have expanded significantly since, have sparked a number of extended Israeli military engagements against Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip.

November 9, 2023 | 8 Comments »

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8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. Felix, What the Hell!

    America to offer hand of friendship to Arabs from Palestine to have a life in America, expand this welcome to ever anxious Ireland etc, can be delivered with ironic flourish but meant seriously as well.

    You see what they have gone and done to Gaza – why the hell would we want them in America? We have enough problems.

  2. Peloni

    Since we know how Bibi with the best will can be rather obtuse at times

    And since this would be so crucial

    If you were writing his speech

    What are main points to hammer?

    I was thinking: precise details of votes over the years, how PLO and Hamas converge, Haj Amin el Husseini and convergence of the MUFTI with Stepan Bandera in Ukraine, America to offer hand of friendship to Arabs from Palestine to have a life in America, expand this welcome to ever anxious Ireland etc, can be delivered with ironic flourish but meant seriously as well.

    Using the experience of the Donbass he will of course be pointing out this common strategy of the Fascists in our age…they fight only when surrounded by civilians (hostages all round and at the drop of a hat keenness to become proxies)

    As regards borders Bibi will use his map wielding skills and to show how critical are borders will show that thousands of miles of border that Russia is defending thanks to Biden NATO friends and recruits. Quickly resolving into the bitter experiences of Jews re borders. This could cover so much and so many years may be advisable to leave for another day.

    P.S. The Russians Chinese and many other nations will hear the reference to BANDERA trust me they will!

  3. @Ted

    Bibi [must] be invited to a joint session of Congress to make the case against what Blinken is advocating.

    A truly inspired suggestion! The only way for Israel to deal with the American govt is to ignore the power barons that sit in the halls of power and directly address the American people, for the latter are the true allies of Israel while the former can hardly be so described. It would provide the greatest opportunity possible to alter the tide of the information war being waged against Israel by challenging the agendas being leveraged against Israel by the American govt, something for which Bibi is quite aptly skilled to do.

  4. Ted I am with you and Sherman especially in spending a billion, no limit either it is so important.

    But how would you proceed? You have to state the Jewish case so what today is the Jewish case aka the Israeli case.

    I have just been attacked by a commenter because I tentatively spoke about global warming and viruses

    Apparently telling me these are out of order

    Even just when billions of people are entering political life and political discussion on just those two issues.

    Sherman has never uttered those words once

    Ted you made Israpundit into a place of COVID being a lab leak forum.

    Create that kind of site you get that kind of readership.

    But I think what people think and discuss is what people are living inside of.

    Cause and Effect

    So how to create hasbara as I think they call it is not as easy as saying do it.

  5. The whole Arab population has been thoroughly trained from earliest life, and historically too, in the Koranic method. It is a total education. Antisemitism is hard wired which is why only a few individuals can break from it. I should say “out of it”. It is a factor in every aspect of life. One of the features of Catholicism especially is how it adapts to this evil situation. So we need to study the philosophical roots to this.

  6. I have been discussing with Martin Sherman what Biden/Blinken have been advocating as opposed to what Sherman, Avivi and I have been proposing. Martin emphasized how important it was for Israel to invest in public diplomacy ($1 B) to win hearts and minds. Hanson has clearly stated that the American people are with us. Now that MAGA GOP has control of Congress, it is imperative that Bibi be invited to a joint session of Congress to make the case against what Blinken is advocating. We must win this battle.

  7. I do not see how Israel can comply with these absurd edicts from a government which has done everything in their power to MAKE IRAN GREAT AGAIN.

    If you have any doubts about everything Biden and his people did to assist Iranian assets in the Middle East that set up Israel to be viciously attacked, please watch this analysis from Tony Badran:

    By the end of the video you will have no doubts left.

    I think the Biden Administration needs to be reminded that Israel knows exactly what they did that caused this attack, and that Israel doesn’t need advice from the group of people that conspired with Iran to nearly destroy Israel.

    This message from Blinken is totally about Biden’s disastrous poll numbers and the constant drumbeat of anti-Israel criticism and Jew hatred coming from his state department. The democrats are shocked at how bad Biden’s poll numbers are, and they are desperate to get votes, so Blinken makes a speech hoping to pick up some Israel haters to vote for Biden.

    The idea would be a disaster if Israel agreed to it. It would not only be a disaster for Israel, but it would also be a disaster for the Palestinian people, whomever are interested in living in better circumstances than Hamas provides for them. It would mean that everything Israel has sacrificed for this war would be down the drain.

    Oh and by the way, the video Yoram Ettinger did, which Ted Belman posted earlier, is a very clear analysis of how Israel AND THE US have benefitted when Israel DID NOT DO WHAT THE US OR INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE TRIED TO TELL THEM TO DO over the course of Israel’s history.

    I think one thing is pretty certain: the Biden government doesn’t seem capable of creating any kind of military or strategic decision that works to the benefit of Americans or our allies, but only creating strategy that works for our enemies! We saw this from the beginning with his disastrous pull out from Afghanistan. Oh and we are STILL giving Afghanistan billions of dollars because why? To this day? But we see it in everything this President has decided to do. He just cannot make geostrategic decisions that create peace and harmony or help our allies or even our own country!

    Dear Mr. Prime Minister Netanyahu: You are a genius of geostrategy and Mr. Biden is struggling to find words to finish his sentences. If you must get weapons elsewhere then so be it, if that’s what it will take to not listen to these feckless bumpkins.