Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel would not support a Palestinian Authority-led government in Gaza after it completes a war to eliminate Hamas in the territory, going against pressure from the U.S.
The Biden administration has repeatedly emphasized that Israel must not “reoccupy” Gaza at the end of the conflict, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying this week that the Palestinian Authority — which operates the West Bank government — should take control.
Netanyahu said Saturday that Israel will retain “overall security control” in Gaza “including the capacity to go in whenever we want to eliminate terrorists who may pop up again.”
“I will tell you what there will not be. There will not be Hamas,” he said. “There will also not be a civil authority that educates its children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, to eliminate the State of Israel. There cannot be an authority that pays the families of murderers [amounts] based on the number they murdered.”
“There cannot be an authority whose leader still has not condemned the terrible massacre 30 days later,” he continued, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. “That cannot be.”
Netanyahu’s comments in recent days over an “indefinite” military control of Gaza post-war have raised concerns in Washington, as Americans fear a new occupation could destabilize the Middle East.
Israel previously occupied Gaza from 1967 to 1996 and placed severe restrictions on the territory afterward through its borders, leading some academics to argue the occupation never ended.
In a conversation with the Omani sultan on Friday, President Biden emphasized the importance of an independent Palestinian government and state, underscoring that outcome as an key part of the administration’s Middle East strategy.
Netanyahu did not name a proposal for a new post-war government in Gaza, implying that Israeli control of the territory is a red line in U.S.-Israeli relations.
“There needs to be something else there. But in any case, we must have security control,” he said. “I insist upon it. There may be pressure on this issue. I don’t intend to cave.”
The Israeli military is in the midst of a ground invasion of northern Gaza amid its war with Hamas, and has surrounded Gaza City, the largest settlement.
The war has killed an estimated 11,000 Palestinians, including over 4,000 children, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.