Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz presented a united front Saturday night in a lengthy briefing with Israeli media, with all three reiterating that eradicating Hamas and rescuing the hostages are the government’s sole priorities until both goals are accomplished.
Netanyahu made clear that although Israel and the United States stand together and agree on many issues, there is absolute disagreement on two important points: the question of Israel’s continued presence in Gaza following the war, and the matter of who will administer the enclave.
President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that his administration opposes the continued presence of Israel in Gaza following the war, and firmly believes the Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah should be tasked with the administration of the enclave going forward.
Neither of those hopes are likely to be fulfilled, if Netanyahu has his way.
In response to repeated questions from journalists about the day after, the prime minister was clear: Israel Defense Forces will continue to maintain the security in Gaza once the war is over, and the Palestinian Authority cannot be trusted to administer the enclave.
“I will not allow anyone who educates his children to destroy Israel to enter Gaza after the fighting. Without a revolution in the civil administration in Gaza it is a matter of time before Gaza returns to terrorism,” he said.
“I think the Palestinian Authority at this point in time is not able to take the responsibility for Gaza: after we have waged war and done everything that is taking place, we’ll hand it over to them?
“Abu Mazen (PA leader Mahmoud Abbas) has yet to condemn Hamas 43 days after the worst massacre carried out against the Jews since the Holocaust, which he still refuses to acknowledge. His top ministers are celebrating what happened [on Oct. 7]. His Palestinian Authority pays murderers and their families; [and] you know very well how they educate their children.
“If there is no change in these things what then have we accomplished? And they [the PA] were there [in Gaza]. We saw what happened. They had Gaza. So what happened? They were slaughtered and thrown out within months, in less than a year if I am not mistaken, by Hamas.
“Along with that, who will fight against these terrorists? Who will guarantee security?” Netanyahu asked.
“There must be a change.”