Gaza’s ‘day-after’ scenario should be forced on Netanyahu

Gaza’s ‘day-after’ scenario should be forced on Netanyahu

Gaza’s ‘day-after’ scenario should be forced on Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoav Gallant and Benny Gantz at Kirya military base, Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct., 28, 2023. (AP Photo)
Short Url

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is often criticized for failing to produce a vision for the “next day,” meaning the day following the end of the Gaza war.
Some of these criticisms emanate from Israel’s traditional Western allies, who are wary of Netanyahu’s personal and political agendas, which are fixated on delaying his corruption trials and ensuring that his extremist allies remain committed to the current government coalition.
The criticism is, however, loudest in Israel itself.
“As long as Hamas retains control over civilian life in Gaza, it may rebuild and strengthen (itself), thus requiring the (Israeli army) to return and fight in areas where it has already operated,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in May, while demanding a “day-after” plan.
The same sentiment was conveyed by Israeli army chief of staff Herzi Halevi. “As long as there’s no diplomatic process to develop a governing body in the Strip that isn’t Hamas, we’ll have to launch campaigns again and again,” he said.
It is true that Netanyahu has no postwar plan. The lack of such a “vision,” however, does not entirely rest on his own failure to produce one, but rather his inability to determine, with any degree of certainty, if the war will yield favorable results for Israel.
Nine months of war have shown that Israel is simply incapable of maintaining its military presence in urban areas, even those that have been ethnically cleansed or are sparsely populated. This has been proven to be as true in the south as in the north of Gaza, including border towns that were relatively easy to enter in the first days and weeks of the war.
For a postwar plan that fits Israeli interests to be produced, Gaza would have to be militarily subdued — a goal that seems more distant than ever.
At the start of the war, and many times since, Netanyahu argued that Israel would have “overall security responsibility” for the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period.” That is also unlikely, as Israel tried to establish such security control between 1967 and 2005, when it was forced, due to the popular resistance during the Second Intifada, to redeploy its forces out of the Gaza Strip, while imposing a hermetic siege that has been in effect ever since.
Recent events have proved that even the Israeli blockade itself is unsustainable, as those who were entrusted with keeping Gazans locked in failed miserably at their main task. This assessment was made by the Israeli military itself. “On Oct. 7, I failed (in) my life’s mission: to protect the (Gaza) envelope,” the commander of the 143rd Division, Brig. Gen. Avi Rosenfeld, said as he tendered his resignation last week.
This means that returning to the post-1967 status is not a rational option, and neither is a reactivation of the post-2005 so-called disengagement plan.
While Washington is busy hoping to devise an alternative that ensures long-term security for Israel — with no regard to Palestinian rights, freedom or security, of course — Netanyahu refuses to play along. The problem with the American ideas, as far as the Israeli government is concerned, is that language such as “returning to negotiations” is completely taboo in the country’s mainstream politics.
Additionally, Netanyahu rejects any involvement of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. This position, which has even been advocated by other Israeli officials, seems to puzzle many, as the PA is already incorporated into Israel’s security arrangements in the West Bank. Netanyahu’s real fear is that a return of the PA to Gaza would come at a political price, as it would give greater credibility to President Mahmoud Abbas, who is keenly invested in the US-championed “peace process.”
Not only does the current Israeli leadership reject any return to the old political discourse, but it has also fundamentally moved on, progressing its language to that of military annexation of the West Bank and even the recolonization of Gaza. To recolonize Gaza, as per the expectations of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, two events would have to take place consecutively: First, the pacification of the Gaza resistance, and then a partial or total ethnic cleansing of the resident Palestinian population into Egypt.

Netanyahu is unable to determine, with any degree of certainty, if the war will yield favorable results for Israel.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud

While the Israeli army is failing at its first task, the second also seems unfeasible, especially since the recent Israeli operation in Rafah has pushed hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans back from the Egypt border to the center of the Strip.
Netanyahu does not seem to have an actual plan for Gaza, neither for now nor after the war. So, he prolongs the war despite the fact that his army is exhausted and depleted and is being forced to fight on multiple fronts. However, blaming Netanyahu for failing to produce a “next-day” vision for Gaza is also wishful thinking, as it assumes that Israel has all the cards. It has none.
Of course, there is an alternative to the never-ending war scenario; namely, permanently lifting the siege on Gaza, ending the military occupation and dismantling the apartheid regime. This would grant Palestinians their freedom and rights as guaranteed by international humanitarian laws.
If the international community mustered the courage to force such a “next-day” reality on Tel Aviv, there would be no need for war, or resistance in the first place.

  • Dr. Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and author. He is editor of The Palestine Chronicle and nonresident senior research fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs. His latest book, co-edited with Ilan Pappe, is “Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders and Intellectuals Speak Out.” X: @RamzyBaroud
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point of view