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Israeli leaders split over post-war Gaza governance

Published : Sunday, 19 May, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 188

JERUSALEM, May 18: New divisions have emerged among Israels leaders over post-war Gazas governance, with an unexpected Hamas fightback in parts of the Palestinian territory piling pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Israeli army has been battling Hamas militants across Gaza for more than seven months while also exchanging near-daily fire with Iran-backed Hezbollah forces along the northern border with Lebanon.
But after Hamas fighters regrouped in northern Gaza, where Israel previously said the group had been neutralised, broad splits emerged in the Israeli war cabinet in recent days.
Netanyahu came under personal attack from Defence Minister Yoav Gallant for failing to rule out an Israeli government in Gaza after the war.
The Israeli premiers outright rejection of post-war Palestinian leadership in Gaza has broken a rift among top politicians wide open and frustrated relations with top ally the United States.
Experts say the lack of clarity only serves to benefit Hamas, whose leader has insisted no new authority can be established in the territory without its involvement.
"Without an alternative to fill the vacuum, Hamas will continue to grow," International Crisis Group analyst Mairav Zonszein told AFP.
Emmanuel Navon, a lecturer at Tel Aviv University, echoed this sentiment.
"If only Hamas is left in Gaza, of course they are going to appear here and there and the Israeli army will be forced to chase them around," said Navon.
"Either you establish an Israeli military government or an Arab-led government."
Gallant said in a televised address on Wednesday: "I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza strip."
The premiers war planning also came under recent attack by army chief Herzi Halevi as well as top Shin Bet security agency officials, according to Israeli media reports.
Netanyahu is also under pressure from Washington to swiftly bring an end to the conflict and avoid being mired in a long counterinsurgency campaign.
Washington has previously called for a "revitalised" form of the Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza after the war.
But Netanyahu has rejected any role for the PA in post-war Gaza, saying Thursday that it "supports terror, educates terror, finances terror".
Instead, Netanyahu has clung to his steadfast aim of "eliminating" Hamas, asserting that "theres no alternative to military victory".
Experts say confidence in Netanyahu is running thin.
"With Gallants criticism of Netanyahus failure to plan for the day after in terms of governing Gaza, some real fissures are beginning to emerge in the Israeli war cabinet," Colin P. Clarke, director of policy and research at the Soufan Group think tank, wrote on X, formerly Twitter.    —AFP







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