The US has pushed Israel to end the fighting in Gaza quickly, but PM Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be in no rush
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The US has pushed for a “stabilization phase” and the end of military operations
The Israeli war cabinet intends to discuss a post-conflict plan for Gaza on Thursday, for the first time since October 7, the Times of Israel has reported. The meeting comes amid pressure from Washington to wrap up the war quickly.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas after the Palestinian group’s deadly incursion, vowing to root it out completely. He has not articulated a vision of what would happen next, however, beyond declaring that Israel would retain “security control” over Gaza and not allow the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to run the enclave.
Netanyahu’s government reportedly prepared a contingency plan to displace all of the enclave’s residents to Egypt. Meanwhile, one former Knesset member from his Likud party advocated for the total destruction of Gaza.
According to the Times of Israel, the White House has argued that the lack of an official plan for post-war governance would result in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) getting “bogged down” in Gaza. A recent Politico story, quoting Washington insiders, suggested that US President Joe Biden was eager to end the Gaza conflict quickly, as it was harming his prospects for reelection in 2024.
The cabinet meeting was called after Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer returned from Washington, where he reportedly discussed the conflict with the top US officials.
Earlier on Thursday, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant and discussed “preparations for the stabilization phase that will follow major combat operations,” according to a readout posted by the Pentagon. According to Israeli media, this was the first time the US has used that particular phrasing regarding the conflict.
Gallant has previously said that the fighting was likely to drag on for “many more months” as there was no alternative to “thoroughly dismantling” Hamas.
He and Austin reportedly also discussed “threats to regional security,” such as the skirmishes with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, attacks on US troops in Iraq and Syria by what the Pentagon has described as “Iran-aligned militia,” and the attacks on cargo ships in the Red Sea by the Houthis.
The Yemeni group has openly sided with the Palestinians and said they would target “Israeli-linked” vessels until Netanyahu stops the offensive against Gaza. They also said they would not be deterred by US plans to send a naval armada into the region, which has yet to materialize due to the reluctance of Washington’s allies.
The October 7 incursion by Hamas resulted in the deaths of 1,200 Israelis; another 240 were taken captive. Since then, some 21,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to local health authorities.