As U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Friday, questions are mounting about the future of the Gaza Strip after the war.
Ahead of the trip Blinken said he would discuss “concrete steps” that should be taken to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians. The diplomat is also expected to press Netanyahu on a pause to the fighting, though neither Israel nor Hamas appear ready to reach a truce.
The Israel Defence Forces have relentlessly bombarded Gaza since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack killed more than 1,400 people in Israel. In Gaza, more than 9,000 people, many of them children, have been killed in the retaliatory siege, which has drawn international condemnation and pleas for a ceasefire.
The U.S. and Israel are reportedly discussing options for what will come next in the Gaza Strip. Among the possibilities under consideration are a multinational force that could include U.S. troops, a peacekeeping force, or temporary oversight of the enclave by the United Nations. American officials believe that the endpoint includes the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, Bloomberg reported, but how to achieve that outcome has barely featured in discussions.
Israel does not have firm plans for what will happen after its offensive culminates, according to one analyst. The war is likely to leave the Gaza Strip “a smoldering pit of devastation,” Hussein Ibish writes in The Atlantic — but there’s so far no information on who will manage the area after troops eventually withdraw. Egypt, which manages one entrance into the Strip, is unlikely to intervene, Ibish notes: The nation has made it a point to avoid getting involved in Gaza since 1979. “Israel is on its own, and so it must find an alternative both to leaving Gaza quickly, thereby allowing Hamas to reemerge, at least as a political entity, and to staying and battling the inevitable insurgency,” Ibish writes.
Planning for what comes next in Gaza should involve the possibility of a two-state solution, The Economist notes. There has been no movement in peace talks since 2014, and negotiators aren’t able to just pick up where they left off last time. No Israeli officials are publicly discussing the end to the conflict, or the possibility of reigniting talks about a two-state solution: But “defence officials are discussing it in closed rooms,” the newspaper said. That is in part “because the Netanyahu government is incapable of holding a serious debate on Israel’s long-term strategy.”
A document recently leaked by Israeli media outlines a proposal to move Gaza’s 2.3 million people into Egypt. Netanyahu played down the plan, calling it a “concept paper," but it has sparked worry in Cairo and among some of Israel’s key allies, including in the EU, Politico reported. Among Palestinians, fears are mounting that there could be a repeat of the 1948 war, which saw hundreds of thousands of people uprooted from their homes for the creation of the Israeli state.