Netanyahu looking for countries willing to absorb Palestinians displaced out of Gaza
12/29/2023 // Richard Brown // Views

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has discussed post-war plans and addressed the issue of finding countries willing to "absorb" Palestinians from Gaza during a recent meeting of the Likud Party. He stressed the importance of establishing a team to facilitate voluntary immigration, stating that the world is already considering the possibilities for such movements.

The prime minister suggested that countries ready to accept Palestinians need to be identified, and the matter holds strategic significance for the post-war period. This statement is in line with similar calls from influential figures within the Likud party. Former Science Minister Danny Danon, a Likud member, has publicly advocated for Western nations to consider accepting refugees from Gaza.

Last week, Netanyahu's reported request to U.S. President Joe Biden for assistance in relocating Gazans to Egypt has sparked both international interest and controversy.

Netanyahu, seeking potential avenues to address the humanitarian impact of the conflict, reportedly inquired whether the U.S. could exert pressure on Egypt to accept a portion of Gaza's population during the ongoing hostilities.

While the proposal could be viewed as a pragmatic attempt to alleviate the dire humanitarian conditions in Gaza, it has raised questions about the motivations behind such a move and the implications for the affected population.

Biden's response to Netanyahu's request indicated that Cairo did not consider the relocation of Gazans to Egypt as a viable option.

The reasons behind Egypt's reluctance were not explicitly stated, but reports suggest that such a move could strain Egypt-Israel relations, especially if displaced Palestinians were directed towards the Sinai Peninsula.

An unnamed Israeli official categorically denied the request, stating: "The assertion that Israel is trying to push Gazans out and into Egypt is false."

Egypt had previously warned both Israel and the U.S. against allowing displaced Palestinians from Gaza to enter the Sinai Peninsula. This warning emphasized that such a scenario could lead to a rupture in Egypt-Israel relations.

The Gaza conflict erupted following the Oct. 7 attack orchestrated by Hamas, resulting in a large-scale Israeli military response. The terror group, responsible for a significant loss of life and the seizure of hostages, prompted Israel to launch a wide-scale attack to dismantle Hamas' military capabilities and governance infrastructure.

Israel, U.S. at odds over who will assume control of Gaza once Hamas is out

As international pressure mounts for a resolution, the U.S. has advocated for a restructured Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume control of Gaza if Hamas is successfully removed from power.

The U.S. position emphasizes the need for the PA to undergo anti-corruption reforms and promote free expression and civil society.

However, Netanyahu has expressed skepticism about the PA's suitability to govern Gaza, citing its refusal to condemn Hamas terrorism and its financial support for the families of incarcerated Palestinian terrorists and assailants.

The differences in approach between the U.S. and Israel regarding the post-conflict governance of Gaza underscore the challenges of finding a consensus. (Related: Biden finally admits that Israel is "losing support" as a result of its "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza.)

Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to the Middle East, highlighted the divergent views, stating that the PA remains the only viable option for a solution "under Palestinian rule in a way that connects governance in the West Bank with Gaza."

Yet, Netanyahu rejects this idea, reflecting the resistance within his coalition partners to the revival of the PA's role in governing Gaza.

The recent statements from Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi suggested a potential softening of Tel Aviv's resistance to the PA controlling Gaza after the conflict. However, a subsequent statement from a senior Israeli official sought to clarify that Hanegbi's comments were "misunderstood" and reiterated that the PA ruling Gaza post-conflict is not a feasible option.

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