update deskIsrael at War

Hanegbi: Israel to introduce Hamas alternative in Gaza ‘soon’

"You need ... a local leadership willing to live side by side with Israel and not devote its life to killing Israelis," stated the national security adviser.

Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi attends the Herzliya Conference, May 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi attends the Herzliya Conference, May 23, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

The Israeli government’s war goals in Gaza can only be fully achieved by fostering an alternative to Hamas rule in the enclave, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi stated on Tuesday.

“You cannot completely get Hamas to disappear because it’s an idea, a concept,” Hanegbi said during a panel discussion at Reichman University’s annual Herzliya Conference.

According to Hanegbi, once Hamas’s military and civil rule collapse, there will be an opportunity “for countries that want to see a governing alternative to Hamas in Gaza, with local leadership in Gaza, to join this process.”

The Cabinet has authorized the Israel Defense Forces to lead the process of finding an alternative to the terror group, he stated, adding that the project will be implemented first in northern Gaza and is set to be launched “soon.” 

“You need a competing alternative concept, and that would be a local leadership willing to live side by side with Israel and not devote its life to killing Israelis,” stated the national security adviser.

Hanegbi said, “We’ve been talking about this notion of ‘the day after’ for many months, and the main thing that we’ve tried to emphasize throughout is that it’s mainly the day after Hamas in the sense that we don’t need to wait for it to disappear, because that process could take a long time.

“The idea is, and this is what the Americans agree on, including in the conversations this week and also in the conversation that the minister of defense [Yoav Gallant] is conducting right now [in Washington], is that there will be a so-called top-down leadership, and not only bottom-up,” he continued.

The proposed new leadership will include moderate Arab countries that are part of the Abraham Accords, along with the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, said Hanegbi. The IDF would remain responsible for “cleansing the area” of Hamas elements.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a JNS request for comment.

Hanegbi’s remarks echoed comments by IDF Spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, who told Channel 13 on Wednesday that to truly achieve Israel’s war goal of eliminating Hamas rule in Gaza, an alternative must be introduced.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday clarified that the government and military remained fully committed to eliminating Hamas rule.

The government led by Netanyahu is set to discuss a proposal under which the military would administer Gaza for six months to a year following the war, the Kan News broadcaster reported last month.

The plan under consideration calls for civilian rule through the IDF Civil Administration and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, with local Arab companies providing services.

According to Kan News, Jerusalem is considering a gradual transfer of control to local bodies not considered hostile to the Jewish state.

Netanyahu said during an interview that aired on May 9 that he is seeking to establish a rule “by Gazans who are not committed to our destruction, possibly with the aid of the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other countries that I think want to see stability and peace.”

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