JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented his first official “day after” plan for the Gaza Strip once the war there ends, saying Israel will keep security control over all Palestinian areas and make reconstruction of Gaza dependent on its demilitarisation.

The document proposes Israel would maintain security control over all land west of Jordan, including the occupied West Bank and Gaza — territories where the Palestinians hope to establish an independent state.

It was swiftly dismissed by Palestinian officials as doomed to failure.

Netanyahu presented the plan on Thursday to the security cabinet, which could still demand amendments. It was seen by Reuters on Friday.

Netanyahu’s proposal dismissed as doomed to failure

In the long-term goals listed, Netanayhu rejects the “unilateral recognition” of a Palestinian state. He says a settlement with the Palestinians will only be achieved through direct negotiations between the two sides — without naming who the Palestinian party would be.

In Gaza, Netanyahu outlines demilitarisation and deradicalisation as goals to be achieved in the medium term. He does not elaborate on when that intermediary stage would begin or how long it would last. But he conditions the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, much of which has been laid to waste by Israel’s offensive, on its complete demilitarization.

Netanyahu proposes Israel have a presence on the Gaza-Egypt border in the south of the enclave and cooperates with Egypt and the United States in that area to prevent smuggling attempts, including at the Rafah crossing.

To replace Hamas rule in Gaza while maintaining public order, Netanyahu suggests working with local representatives “who are not affiliated with terrorist countries or groups and are not financially supported by them”.

He calls for shutting down the UN Palestinian refugees’ agency UNRWA and replacing it with other international aid groups.

“The prime minister’s document of principles reflects broad public consensus over the goals of the war and for replacing Hamas rule in Gaza with a civilian alternative,” a statement by the Prime Minister’s office said.

The document was distributed to security cabinet members to start a discussion on the issue.

The spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told Reuters that Netanyahu’s proposal was doomed to fail, as were any Israeli plans to change the geographic and demographic realities in Gaza.

“If the world is genuinely interested in having security and stability in the region, it must end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and recognise an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2024

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