Israel wants to eliminate Hamas’s military infrastructure and restore Israeli deterrence without staying in Gaza. The American desire for a stable government in Gaza is unrealistic, given their failures in other Muslim countries. Building a political framework in Gaza is challenging, and Gaza is not like Germany or Japan, modern states changed by American occupation.
International trusteeship, UN-mandated forces, inter-Arab units, and Western military contingents will object to Israel’s military freedom of action in Gaza. Israel’s experience with international forces is negative, and their effectiveness in preventing terrorism is limited. Additionally, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is weak and may not be able to defend Israel.
Israel cannot ignore American preferences, especially since it will need the US’s support to replenish its munitions stockpiles after the war. To satisfy the US’s desire for a “two-state solution,” Israel may need to consider reintroducing PA rule to Gaza, despite its weaknesses and inefficiencies. It is unlikely that the PA will function better in Gaza than in the West Bank, and its introduction into Gaza may lead to further disappointment from the Palestinian national movement.
Restocking the weapons cache
Israel should take Washington’s wishes into account and consider reintroducing PA rule to unify the West Bank and Gaza. The PA’s weakness and inefficiency could become an advantage for Israel, and its introduction into Gaza may also demonstrate Israel’s willingness to cooperate with the US and its support for the two-state solution.
Egypt may view the return of the PA to Gaza as a convenient solution, and in exchange for Israel’s approval, Israel should demand the creation of buffer zones under its control in Gaza to prevent access to Israeli targets. The date of the IDF’s withdrawal from Gaza should be used as leverage for attaining Israel’s goals there, and Israel should not oppose American diplomatic efforts, even though the IDF may need to continue operations in Gaza after the withdrawal.
The writer is the president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security (JISS) and head of the Strategy, Diplomacy, and Security program at the Shalem Center.