Israel’s Gallant demands clarity on post-war Gaza governance, opposes military rule

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 11:04 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was publicly challenged over post-war plans for the Gaza Strip on Wednesday by his own defence chief, who vowed to oppose any long-term military rule by Israel over the ravaged Palestinian enclave.

In a televised news conference, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that, since soon after the conflict erupted with a shock Hamas attack on Oct 7, he had tried to promote a blueprint for an alternative Gaza administration made up of Palestinians.

Those efforts “got no response” from various decision-making cabinet forums under Netanyahu, said Gallant, who comes from the prime minister’s Likud party.

“I call on the prime minister to announce that Israel will not rule over Gaza militarily,” Gallant said. “An alternative to Hamas governance should be established … Indecision will erode the military gains (of the war).”

There was no immediate response from Netanyahu, who earlier on Wednesday issued a statement that appeared to be a riposte to similar remarks aired by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Netanyahu has said Israel, if it achieves its war goal of dismantling Hamas’ government and military apparatus in Gaza, would retain overall security control over the territory. He has stopped short of describing this scenario as an occupation.

He has also balked at proposals for the internationally-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), which wields some governance in the occupied West Bank, to move back into a post-war Gaza.

Netanyahu has accused the PA of being hostile to Israel, but his governing coalition also relies on ultra-nationalist partners which want the PA dismantled and for Jewish settlements to be expanded to Gaza.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Peter Graff, Alexandra Hudson)