Netanyahu’s day after plan is the same as the day before, but worse

Netanyahu’s day after plan is the same as the day before, but worse

Netanyahu’s day after plan is the same as the day before, but worse
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Reuters)
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Finally, after more than four months of devastating war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented his Cabinet with a document titled “The Day After Hamas,” which claims to be a plan for the management of Gaza after the war.
In truth, it is no more than a collection of the most obvious, general, and worryingly unilateral, Israeli shopping list items that represent a return to the situation of the day before, but with excessively more Israeli control than forward thinking.
There is no plan for achieving peace and reconciliation with the Palestinians, nor have any lessons been learned from the conceptual paradigm of total security control that has cost so many lives on both sides.
Throughout this war, Netanyahu and his entire Cabinet have maintained that the aim is to destroy Hamas. Not only has this not been viable from the outset, but it also lacks any vision for the future of a post-war Gaza, even without Hamas, or a bigger picture for relations with the Palestinian people.
As with everything else that Netanyahu says or does these days, it smacks of the behavior of a small-time politician who is desperate to appeal to his ever-shrinking base, rather than a statesman with a long-term plan to climb out of the deep hole he has thrown his country into in the first place.
The prime minister’s one-page set of principles can easily be seen as a last-ditch act of defiance, an attempt to preempt the growing pressure, both from the international community and at home from those who want to see the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas, which might force him to accept a ceasefire that his base and right-wing government coalition partners reject.
Alternatively — since his supposed plan is in reality an utterly opaque statement in terms of timescale and detail, as the document clearly declares that the Israeli military operation will continue until it destroys the military capabilities and governing infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad — it can be viewed as an exercise carried out for the sake of pretending he has a plan, solely to buy some more time while the real aim is to prolong the war for many more months.
In a short passage of the document titled “In the long run,” Netanyahu reveals he has no interest in drawing any constructive conclusions from the disastrous events that have taken place since Oct. 7. What he presents as a long-term plan is merely a return to the same situation Israel and the Palestinians were in before the war, but with Israel demanding even more power to dictate the nature of relations between the two.
By doing so, he is saying “no” to a two-state solution and “no” to normalization of relations with the region.
Netanyahu’s “non-plan” also exposes his fixation with Israel’s security as a zero-sum game that can only be won if Palestinians are living under complete Israeli control with very few rights, least of all the right to self-determination.
This is just one more piece of evidence that confirms why he should leave office immediately and withdraw from politics altogether. His inability to address the root causes of the conflict, chief among them the absence of Palestinian statehood and the Israeli occupation, hampers and endangers Israeli security and makes him a liability.
His is the same old Israeli security paradigm, which maintains that only by oppressing Palestinians and depriving them of their rights can Israel achieve security and survive, rather than through the creation of a Palestinian state and allowing the Palestinian people to enjoy equal rights so that they can fulfill their potential in every aspect of their lives. 

Netanyahu’s inability to address the root causes of the conflict makes him a liability.

Yossi Mekelberg

One might think the unbearable ease with which the massacre of Oct. 7 was carried out, the many months of a subsequent war that has spread beyond Gaza, the damage it has caused to Israel’s economy, and the country’s increasing international isolation would lead to a change in the way of thinking. Not a bit of it.
There is a wide consensus in Israeli society, as outlined in Netanyahu’s document, that the underlining imperatives are that the hostages must be released and no force from Gaza should ever again pose a threat to Israel.
However, the proposal that Israel should continue its military operation in Gaza freely and with no time limit merely represents a continuation of the prewar blockade regime and a security buffer zone for as long as Israel deems it necessary, including along the border with Egypt.
Moreover, there is an insistence on complete security control over the entire West Bank, which is a clear violation of the Oslo agreement. In other words, if there is any space remaining for yet another “final” nail in the coffin of post-Oslo agreements, Netanyahu is determined to hammer it down.
What is deliberately vague in the prime minister’s post-war “plan” is who will govern Gaza when the hostilities are over, and how. A positive aspect of the ambiguity in this case is that Netanyahu does not exclude the possibility of the Palestinian Authority running it, but it grants Israel, at least in the minds of those who wrote this document, the final say on who will control day-to-day life in Gaza.
But let’s get back to reality: If Israel seeks cooperation with more moderate and pragmatic forces among the Palestinians, and the support of regional and international powers that can facilitate and finance a transition toward a sustainable, united governance of the West Bank and Gaza, Israel should dispense with the idea that it can dictate future political arrangements; otherwise it will once again empower the extremists who thrive on conflict and discord.
It would not be a Netanyahu plan without a demand to dismantle the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. It almost implies the agency is to blame for the massacre of Oct. 7 by suggesting it enabled the attacks by educating generations of Palestinians to support the destruction of Israel.
Setting aside the issue of the flaws in this allegation, no organization is sacred or irreplaceable, especially when circumstances are changing. Nevertheless, replacing UNRWA would require more than hollow rhetoric about bringing in other humanitarian groups without meticulous planning or adequate budgets, and without assessing the vacuum it would leave behind.
Both Israel and the Palestinians have their work cut out to come up with well-thought-through plans for postwar Gaza. At this stage, meanwhile, a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas that also includes a swap of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners is an urgent necessity. But this must happen without losing sight of the need for a more comprehensive long-term solution.
What is clear is that for the Jewish state to issue a diktat from Netanyahu, especially one that is unilateral in practice and in spirit, is neither viable nor desirable. Israel has tried this approach before and — self-evidently — it has not ended well.

• Yossi Mekelberg is a professor of international relations and an associate fellow of the Middle East and North Africa Program at international affairs think tank Chatham House.
X: @YMekelberg

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