PM: For peace, Hamas must be crushed, Gaza demilitarized, Palestinians deradicalized

Netanyahu outlines 3 prerequisites in WSJ op-ed, makes no mention of hostages or two-state solution, repeats opposition to Palestinian Authority role in ruling post-war Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 27, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that before there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians, “Hamas must be destroyed, Gaza must be demilitarized, and Palestinian society must be deradicalized.”

The three prerequisites were detailed in an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, in which the premier reiterated his stance that the Palestinian Authority is unfit to govern the Gaza Strip after Hamas is vanquished, a position that has put him at odds with US President Joe Biden’s administration.

Notably, the piece didn’t include as a prerequisite the release of the 129 hostages who were kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 and are still being held by terrorists in the Gaza Strip. The thousands of invading terrorists abducted a total of some 240 hostages that day, and killed about 1,200, mostly civilians.

The column also avoided mentioning a Palestinian state or a two-state solution, which Netanyahu regularly says he staunchly opposes.

Regarding the first condition for peace, Netanyahu wrote that “the US, UK, France, Germany, and many other countries support Israel’s intention to demolish the terror group. To achieve that goal, its military capabilities must be dismantled and its political rule over Gaza must end. Hamas’s leaders have vowed to repeat the Oct. 7 massacre ‘again and again.’ That is why their destruction is the only proportional response to prevent the repeat of such horrific atrocities. Anything less guarantees more war and more bloodshed.”

Netanyahu argued that the international community should blame Hamas for the massive civilian casualties of the current war, due to the Palestinian terror group’s use of Gaza’s population and health facilities as human shields. “Israel does its best to minimize civilian casualties,” he wrote.

Secondly, Netanyahu said Israel must also ensure that Gaza is “never again used as a base to attack” the country.

Soldiers walking next to the destruction by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, 2023, in southern Israel, November 21, 2023 (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

“Among other things, this will require establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt that meets Israel’s security needs and prevents smuggling of weapons into the territory,” said Netanyahu.

In light of reported suggestions that the Palestinian Authority administer Gaza after the war, he said the “expectation that the Palestinian Authority will demilitarize Gaza is a pipe dream,” adding that Ramallah “has shown neither the capability nor the will to demilitarize Gaza.”

The PA, he accused, “currently funds and glorifies terrorism” in the West Bank “and educates Palestinian children to seek the destruction of Israel.”

Outlining the third precondition for peace, the prime minister wrote that Palestinian “schools must teach children to cherish life rather than death, and imams must cease to preach for the murder of Jews.”

“Palestinian civil society needs to be transformed so that its people support fighting terrorism rather than funding it,” he contended.

“That will likely require courageous and moral leadership,” said Netanyahu, attacking PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who “can’t even bring himself to condemn the Oct. 7 atrocities.”

Landscapers work beneath a billboard depicting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas wearing a Hamas headband, in Tel Aviv, November 23, 2023. The billboard equates Abbas’s Palestinian Authority with the Hamas terror group. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Netanyahu pointed to the “successful deradicalization” that took place “in Germany and Japan after the Allied victory in World War II,” and said that “today, both nations are great allies of the US and promote peace, stability and prosperity in Europe and Asia.” He also said that after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, “visionary Arab leaders in the Gulf have led efforts to deradicalize their societies and transform their countries.”

“Once Hamas is destroyed, Gaza is demilitarized and Palestinian society begins a deradicalization process, Gaza can be rebuilt and the prospects of a broader peace in the Middle East will become a reality,” he concluded.

“For the foreseeable future Israel will have to retain overriding security responsibility over Gaza,” the premier also said, repeating a position that has put him at odds with the White House, which supports governance of Gaza by a “revamped” Palestinian Authority.

In comments leaked this month to Hebrew media from the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Netanyahu said that the Palestinian Authority, like Hamas, seeks to destroy Israel, though “in stages.”

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