Minister throws political hand grenade at Netanyahu, ruling out Israeli control of Gaza

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Minister throws political hand grenade at Netanyahu, ruling out Israeli control of Gaza

'The day after Hamas will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors,' Yoav Gallant said in a televised speech.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. May 2024. Photo: Ariel Hermoni (IMoD)
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant. May 2024. Photo: Ariel Hermoni (IMoD)

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to come up with a post-war plan for Gaza and to publicly commit that Israel won’t re-occupy the enclave. 

“I call on Netanyahu, to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza strip, that Israel will not establish military governance int he Gaza strip, and that a governing alternative to Hamas in the Gaza strip will be raised immediately,” Gallant said in a televised speech to the nation on Wednesday.

Gallant aired his frustration about his post-war plan for Gaza hasn’t been properly discussed by the cabinet: “Already in October, on the night of our military manoeuvre (into Gaza), the defence establishment presented its war plan to the Cabinet, stating that it will be necessary to destroy Hamas battalions, while simultaneously working to establish a local, non-hostile Palestinian governing alternative.”

“Since October, I have been raising this issue consistently in the Cabinet, and have received no response. The end of the military campaign must come together with political action. The ‘day after Hamas,’ will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas’ rule. This, above all, is an interest of the State of Israel. Unfortunately, this issue was not raised for debate and worse, an alternative was not raised in its replacement,” Gallant added.

In what appeared to be a jab at Netanyahu, who has failed to draw up a viable and realistic plan for the day after the war in Gaza, Gallant said that “indecision, is in essence, a decision. This leads to a dangerous course, which promotes the idea of Israeli military and civilian governance in Gaza. This is a negative and dangerous option for Israel strategically, militarily, and from a security standpoint.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Memorial Day, May 2024. Photo: Kobi Gideon (GPO)

War cabinet minister Benny Gantz issued a statement shortly after Gallant’s speech, saying: “The defence minister is speaking the truth – the leadership’s responsibility is to do what is right for the country, at any price.”

Netanyahu, however, was quick to dismiss Gallant’s speech, hinting that the defence minister proposed bringing the Palestinian Authority in to Gaza.

“As long as Hamas remains intact, no other party will step in to manage civilian affairs in Gaza, certainly not the Palestinian Authority. 80 percent of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the terrible massacre of October 7. I am not prepared to switch from Hamastan to Fatahstan,” he said, referring to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

Gallant’s speech also drew harsh criticism from the far-right ministers in Netanyahu’s government.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on Netanyahu to fire Gallant, claiming that in his view “there is no difference between whether Gaza is controlled by IDF soldiers or whether Hamas murderers control it.”

“This is the essence of the conception of a defence minister who failed on October 7, and continues to fail even now. Such a defence minister must be replaced in order to achieve the goals of the war,” he wrote on X.

Finance Minister Betzalel Smotrich fell short of calling on Gallant to be fired, but said that Gallant’s plan to bring in the PA to Gaza would “pave the way for the establishment of an Arab terrorist state and for Hamas to take over Judea and Samaria as well.”

“Gallant today announced his support for the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state as a reward for terrorism and Hamas for the most terrible massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” Smotrich said in a video statement.

Justice Minister Yariv Levin also lashed out at Gallant, comparing his plan “a second Oslo process, which will lead Israel to another disaster… The people of Israel are not ready to be humiliated.”

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