Biden calls for Netanyahu to outline plans for post-war governance in Gaza

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US President Joe Biden (right) is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport, October 18, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP)
US President Joe Biden (right) is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ben Gurion International Airport, October 18, 2023. (Evan Vucci/AP)

US President Joe Biden urges Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to plan for who will govern Gaza after the war, highlighting a bitter point of contention between the US and the premier, who has refused to hold substantive cabinet discussions on the matter due to concerns they could collapse his coalition.

Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners have called for Israel to permanently occupy Gaza and re-establish settlements in the Palestinian territory. The premier has signaled his opposition to these steps, but has been criticized for blocking clear alternatives to Hamas’s rule, such as a reformed Palestinian Authority, leaving US officials concerned that Gaza will either remain in Hamas’s hands or will be governed by anarchy.

“We’ve got to think through what is happening after this is over [in Gaza]. Who is going to occupy Gaza?” Biden says in a CNN interview.

He then speaks of the US post-war vision, saying he has the support of five Arab but declines to name  them”because I don’t want to get them in trouble.” Biden appears to be referring to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and Qatar, whose leaders have held several summits along with representatives from the Palestinian Authority aimed at crafting a regional peace plan that can be implemented after the war. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has held several joint meetings with his counterparts in those five countries.

Biden reveals that the leaders of those five Arab countries “are prepared to help rebuild Gaza, prepared to help transition to a two-state solution… to maintain the security and peace while they’re working out a Palestinian Authority that’s real and not corrupt.”

The countries have all clarified that any financial or military assistance that they’ll provide to help revive Gaza after the war will be conditioned on Israel agreeing to create a pathway for an eventual two-state solution — something that Netanyahu has rejected out of hand.

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