Netanyahu Could Fire Defense Chief As Public Spat Erupts Over Gaza 'Day After'

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 17, 2024 - 02:00 AM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at odds with his own defense minister Yoav Gallant after Gallant said in a Wednesday televised address that the Israeli leader must take "tough decisions" on Gaza's 'day after' the war ends. Gallant came out very strongly against any scenario that leaves Israel in charge of overseeing the Gaza Strip. He called for advancing non-Hamas Palestinian governance, which would of course mean the Palestinian Authority (PA, which is made up primarily of Fatah), along with international backing. 

Times of Israel highlighted that "The public comments, seen as the most direct political challenge to Netanyahu from within his government since the start of the war, sparked an angry backlash among members of the coalition, who urged Netanyahu to fire the defense minister."

What made matters worse is that just a few hours prior to Gallant issuing his direct challenge, Netanyahu asserted publicly that any discussions of the "day after" Hamas in Gaza are meaningless until the terror group is defeated.

In response to Gallant, Netanyahu issued televised remarks wherein he laid out that he's "not prepared to switch from Hamastan to Fatahstan" - in reference to the PA which currently governs the West Bank, and represents the older era of Palestinian resistance to Israel.

Gallant's challenge is also ultra-sensitive due to going tensions between Netanyahu and the Biden White House. Gallant's plan is widely seen as the one Washington would favor as an outcome. The US has meanwhile condemned any scenario which would see the Israeli government or military permanently administer the Gaza Strip. 

Some hardliners within the Israeli coalition even want to eventually open up the Strip to direct settlement by Jewish families.

Below is a more detailed look at Gallant's 'day after plan which Netanyahu has rejected, via David Ignatius' Washington Post column:

It’s time for Israel to begin building a Palestinian security force in Gaza that can provide stability there after the political power of Hamas is broken, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a blunt briefing this week.

“The idea is simple,” Gallant told me. “We will not allow Hamas to control Gaza. We don’t want Israel to control it, either. What is the solution? Local Palestinian actors backed by international actors.” Gallant’s frank comments mark a turn in the Israeli government’s debate about governance and security issues in Gaza, known by the shorthand phrase “the day after.” His views are widely shared by the defense and security establishment but opposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition.

Concerning Washington's view of this, Ignatius writes further:

Biden administration officials say Gallant has taken a larger role in U.S.-Israeli dialogue in recent months, as relations have soured between Netanyahu and President Biden. One U.S. official described Gallant as an “indispensable” problem-solver in the increasingly tense debate about how to end the war in Gaza.

...In January, Gallant released a public plan that stated his central point: “Gaza residents are Palestinian, therefore Palestinian bodies will be in charge, with the condition that there will be no hostile actions or threats against Israel.” He proposed a multinational task force to help stabilize Gaza including U.S., European and Arab partners, with Egypt playing a special role as a “major actor.”

Netanyahu in his response has tried to frame it as a matter of Gallant making "excuses" for not having eradicated Hamas yet, but without naming him directly.


But central to Gallant's rationale is that direct Israeli rule over the Strip will perpetuate rebellion among Palestinians, driving them into the arms of Hamas. "As long as Hamas retains control over civilian life in Gaza, it may rebuild and strengthen, thus requiring the IDF to return and fight in areas where it has already operated," he has said.

"We must dismantle Hamas’ governing capabilities in Gaza. The key to this goal is military action, and the establishment of a governing alternative in Gaza," Gallant concluded.