US Seeks Clarification From Netanyahu After Remarks On Gaza’s Future

Israeli and other regional media are reporting Sunday that the United States is seeking clarification regarding controversial assertions of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a press conference the day prior. 

Netanyahu emphasized that Israel plans to maintain security control over Gaza even after Hamas is totally defeated. “This prompted US officials to request a clarification, which has shown the growing divide between Israel and the US over the war,” Middle East Eye and others report in the wake of the comments. He also said that the Palestinian Authority (PA) cannot ever run the Gaza Strip.

Via Khan 11

Netanyahu pledged after greeting and consoling families of fallen IDF soldiers, “We will not stop until the mission is completed.”

“There is no substitute for victory. We will eliminate Hamas and save our hostages,” Netanyahu added. “The IDF has completed the encirclement of Gaza City. They are on the outskirts of Shifa Hospital and have killed a lot of terrorists.”

But that’s when he issued the controversial remarks which fully contradict the latest statements from the White House:

“Hamas has lost control in the north of the Gaza Strip,” he continued. “They have no safe place to hide. Until the last of the terrorists, all of Hamas, are dead.”

Netanyahu also ruled out the possibility of the Palestinian Authority (PA) controlling Gaza, saying “There will not be a civil authority there that educates their children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, or to eliminate Israel. There cannot be an authority there that pays the families of murderers. There cannot be an authority who didn’t condemn the massacre. There will have to be something else, but in any case our security control. I stand by it and don’t intend to give up.”

The White House is said to be particularly alarmed over the prime minister’s words which emphasized “Israel will continue security control in the Gaza Strip.”

He also said according to state broadcaster Khan:

…Netanyahu referred to the issue of “the day after” the war in the Gaza Strip and said that “we will not agree to give up security control in Gaza under any circumstances.”

“The day after,” Netanyahu added, “Gaza will be demilitarized and there will no longer be a threat from the strip to Israel.”

But all of this is consistent with what Netanyahu told ABC News a week ago. “I think Israel will for an indefinite period have security responsibility,” he had said. “We’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that… security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine.”

What’s clear is that much of the northern half of Gaza will be left totally destroyed…

The Biden administration has meanwhile expressed public discomfort at this scenario as it mulls other options, including the possibility of the PA under Mahmoud Abbas taking control of a post-Hamas Gaza. The White House has also recently discussed a plan that would see international peacekeeping forces control the security situation. But clearly, Netanyahu has voiced public rejection of these scenarios.

The post-Hamas “day after” has also been subject of proposals out of some leading Congressmen. There was speculation at first that Israeli leadership might welcome this, but this proved premature. US-Israel disagreements and contradictory visions are increasingly being displayed out in the open and not just behind closed doors.

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