Netanyahu says he’ll have a 1-on-1 with Gallant after DM’s critique, vows no PA role in Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF soldiers in southern Israel, May 16, 2024 (Maayan Toaf / GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF soldiers in southern Israel, May 16, 2024 (Maayan Toaf / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to reporters in southern Israel near the Gaza border, says he’s going to speak face-to-face soon with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, after Gallant yesterday demanded that he publicly rule out post-Hamas Israeli military or civil governance of Gaza, and suggested that “Palestinian entities” and other “international actors” should govern the Strip.

Asked if he still trusts Gallant and whether the two can work together, Netanyahu replies: “If you’re talking about what the defense minister said yesterday, then what I have to say to him I’ll first say one-on-one, and not here.”

Asked if that meeting will come soon, he says, “Absolutely.”

Netanyahu fired Gallant 14 months ago for warning about the divides in Israel caused by the coalition’s judicial overhaul plans, before rehiring him amid a public outcry. Some coalition members, notably far-right ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have called on Netanyahu to fire Gallant again now.

A reporter says that what Gallant is essentially advocating is bringing the Palestinian Authority back to Gaza, to which Netanyahu replies: “I firmly oppose switching Hamastan for Fatahstan” — referring to PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

He repeats his frequent summation that the PA “funds terrorism, supports terrorism, educates for terrorism,” and says it is “running a global campaign against us — at the World Court in The Hague and at all the institutions of the UN that are coming to choke us.”

Letting the PA back into Gaza “after what happened here” would be “a prize for terror,” he says. “They were in Gaza — there, over that dune. And what happened? Hamas booted them out and took over.” What happened in 2007 would happen again, he warns.

“We’re not making that mistake again…. If somebody wants to bring in the PA, they should say so clearly.”

Referring to Gallant’s allegation that he refuses to make decisions on post-Hamas Gaza, Netanyahu says, of bringing the PA into Gaza, “That’s a decision I refuse to make.”

Netanyahu is asked why, unlike the chief of staff and Shin Bet head, he refuses to state that he was responsible for the catastrophe of October 7: “The government is responsible for protecting Israel’s security. The IDF and the security branches are responsible for protecting Israel’s security,” he replies. “Clearly, there was a failure here. As for assigning responsibility, the degree of responsibility, all those things, everybody, me included, will have to give answers to tough questions.”

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