Israel okay with reformed PA running Gaza, wants to help rebuild, top Netanyahu aide says

National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi speaks during a statement to the media in Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi speaks during a statement to the media in Tel Aviv on October 14, 2023 (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

A column by National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi signals that Israel’s government may be softening its resistance to having the Palestinian Authority control Gaza after the war there.

The piece, published by the Saudi-owned Elaph news site, also says Israel is committed to rebuilding Gaza, together with Palestinians, the international community and private enterprise, describing the military campaign to topple Hamas as Israel liberating the Strip from the group’s reign of terror.

“Beyond ensuring the security of our citizens, which we will not compromise on, Israel has no interest in controlling civil affairs in Gaza, and there will need to be a moderate Palestinian governing body that enjoys broad support and legitimacy,” Hanegbi writes. “It’s not for us to decide who this will be.”

Hanegbi notes the push by the international community for the PA to take over Gaza’s affairs, but says that would be impossible without reforms, specifically ending incitement to violence against Israel.

“In its current form, the PA finds this difficult to do, and it will require much work and the assistance of the international community and regional neighbors. We are ready for this effort,” he adds.

The column marks a sharp shift from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s avowed refusal to consider PA rule an option for postwar Gaza, arguing that the PA and Hamas are largely the same.

Ironically, Israel’s move toward the PA comes as Ramallah has indicated greater willingness to ally with Hamas, with a top PA official Wednesday walking back comments in which he had criticized the terror group.

The comments broadly echo Washington’s stance, though US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had focused on anti-corruption reforms the PA needed to undertake more than educational ones.

It’s unclear what input Netanyahu had on the column, but Hanegbi is considered a close ally of the premier, and would be unlikely to go behind his boss’s back.

Nonetheless, the column garners some criticism in Israel, with MK Zvi Sukkot of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party writing on X that Hanegbi has no right to publish ideas in the name of Israel’s government.

“We don’t have a drop of responsibility for Gazans ‘looking to the future with great hope.’ Rather, they should look to the future with fear of messing with us again,” Sukkot writes on X. “We don’t owe anything to the ‘rebuilding of Gaza.’ Have we gone crazy? And also, a Palestinian Authority that educates toward tolerance and acceptance only exists in the minds of the very disturbed.”

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