Israel-Hamas War Live Updates: Israel Consolidates Control of Gaza City

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Sunday that the Israeli Army was the only force that could take military responsibility for Gaza after the war and guarantee his country’s security, while stating that he saw no future administrative role there for the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — at least in its current form.

“We need to see the following two things,” Mr. Netanyahu told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Gaza has to be demilitarized and Gaza has to be de-radicalized. And I think so far, we haven’t seen any Palestinian force, including the Palestinian Authority, that is able to do it.”

Asked who could therefore govern Gaza, he said it was “too early to say.” He added, “The first task we have to achieve is defeat Hamas.”

Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks echoed those he made to the Israeli public at a televised news conference on Saturday night that had been his most extensive public description of his vision for Gaza after the end of Israel’s military campaign there against Hamas, which controls the enclave. He said that Israel must maintain security control there “for as long as necessary” and have the ability to enter Gaza at will to deal with perceived threats there.

His remarks appeared to be somewhat at odds with the Biden administration, which last week made it clear that there should be no Israeli “re-occupation” of Gaza. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken left open the possibility of a “transition period” after the war, but said that eventually Gaza’s administration “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, acknowledged the challenges ahead on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday, saying that the best-case scenario would be that a “reinvigorated Palestinian Authority” assume leadership in Gaza, where Hamas militants ousted it from power in 2007.

The best-case scenario, he said, would also require Israel to agree to “negotiate a two-state solution with the support of the international community.” He added, “What would be a one-state solution, with such a large number of Palestinian people inside that state without any rights? That would be inconceivable.”

Israel has been vague on who might administer Gaza if and when Hamas is pushed out, even as it comes under increasing international criticism for the humanitarian crisis and spiraling death toll from its airstrikes and subsequent ground invasion of the enclave. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gazan health officials.

The war was prompted by a cross-border assault by Hamas on Oct. 7 in which an estimated 1,200 people were killed and about 240 more were taken as hostages to Gaza, according to Israeli officials. Israel’s stated goals for the war are to dismantle Hamas’s military strength and ability to rule Gaza, as well as to bring the hostages back home.

Asked about a potential hostage deal, Mr. Netanyahu told “Meet the Press” there “could be” one, but added, “The less I say about it, the more I’ve increased the chances that it materializes.” Israeli representatives have been engaging in talks with intermediaries including Qatar.

But Mr. Netanyahu has now made it clear that he will not agree to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority handling civilian affairs in Gaza unless it changes some of its conduct and unless its leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, forthrightly condemns the Oct. 7 assault against Israel — something Mr. Abbas has refrained from doing so far.

As well as the lack of condemnation, Mr. Netanyahu pointed to the teaching of hatred of Israel to children and monetary payments to assailants convicted of attacks against Israelis — all common Israeli accusations against the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the occupied West Bank.

“The massacre of Oct. 7 proved once and for all that in every place that Israel does not have security control, terrorism entrenches itself,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Saturday. “In the end it comes back to hit us, and that is also true of Judea and Samaria,” he added, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names.

That, he said, is why he will not agree to give up security control of Gaza “under any circumstances.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Mr. Abbas, emphasized on Sunday that any Israeli attempt to separate Gaza from the West Bank was destined to fail. In an apparent response to Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks, Mr. Abu Rudeineh said in comments carried by Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, that “the consolidation of Israel’s occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem would not bring security to anyone.”

Mr. Abu Rudeineh added that stability would only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state in those areas.

Mr. Netanyahu, a conservative and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has been prosecuting the war amid plummeting approval ratings. The ultranationalist parties that make up a key part of his governing coalition do not see the Palestinian Authority as a partner, and after the Oct. 7 attacks, there is a broad consensus among Israelis that Hamas must be ousted from Gaza — even though its complete elimination will most likely prove impossible.

The view in the Israeli government is that so long as Mr. Abbas has not directly condemned Hamas for the Oct. 7 attacks, any agreement to install his authority in Gaza as a replacement for the group would make Mr. Netanyahu look weak in the eyes of many Israelis, according to an Israeli government official who was not authorized to speak openly about internal discussions.

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