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US Refuses To Address Specifics Of Netanyahu's Plan For Post-War Gaza

23.02.2024 22:12

White House says it has made 'clear our positions, including where those views and our positions diverge'

The Biden administration on Friday repeatedly refused to address specifics in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin's plan for post-war Gaza, saying only that US positions stated throughout the course of the war have not changed.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said he would not "speak to the specificity of these plans," emphasizing instead that "we've been clear about what our views are."

"We have had constructive discussions with the Israelis on all these issues over recent weeks where we have of course continue to make clear our positions, including where those views and our positions diverge," he told reporters in a virtual briefing.

"We believe that whatever post conflict, Gaza looks like the Palestinian people have should have a voice and a vote and what that looks like, through a revitalized Palestinian Authority. We don't believe in any reduction of the size of Gaza. We don't believe, and we'll continue to be very vocal about the fact that we don't want to see any forcible displacement of Palestinians outside Gaza. And of course, we don't want to see Gaza dominated, or ruled, or governed over by Hamas. Those are very consistent positions," he added.

Netanyahu's "Day After Hamas" plan includes dismantling Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as well as installing a new local administration run by locals "who are not linked to countries or entities that 'support terrorism'," the Times of Israel reported on Friday.

The plan, which Netanyahu presented to the Cabinet late Thursday evening, also grants the Israeli army "indefinite freedom" to operate in Gaza even after the war ends.

"The plan states that Israel will move forward with its already-in-motion project to establish a security buffer zone on the Palestinian side of the strip's border," the daily said, adding that it would remain "as long as there is a security need for it."

Egypt-Gaza buffer zone proposal

The National Security Council did not respond to a request for comment on one aspect of the plan, which includes the maintenance of a buffer zone along the Egyptian-Gaza border in an area popularly referred to as the Phildelphi Corridor. The plan says Israel will retain control of a buffer zone there "in cooperation with Egypt and with the assistance of the U.S.," according to news website Axios.

Egypt has warned that such a proposal would be in violation of the 1978 peace treaty with Israel.

Kirby could not say whether Brett McGurk, US President Joe Biden's point person for the Middle East, was able to discuss the plans during meetings with Israeli officials, including Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant, this week.

McGurk has been in the region to meet with officials from Israel, Egypt, and Qatar in the hopes of advancing negotiations towards a temporary cease-fire in Gaza in exchange for the release of the over 100 hostages that remain in Hamas captivity.

But it is unclear how those talks are progressing. The US on Tuesday vetoed for a third time a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas. The ensuing Israeli war has killed nearly 30,000 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities. Nearly 70,000 people have been injured.

Around 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack while over 200 were taken back to Gaza as hostages.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe. -



 
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