OpinionIsrael at War

The White House plan to exclude Israel from Gaza

The Biden administration appears to want a mostly Palestinian "force" to control Gaza after the war.

President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Avi Ohayon/GPO.
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen
Shoshana Bryen is senior director of the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.

According to Politico, in a piece largely overlooked, “The Biden administration is considering appointing a U.S. official to serve as the top civilian adviser to a mostly Palestinian force when the Israel-Hamas conflict ends, four U.S. officials said—a sign that the U.S. plans to be very involved in securing a post-war Gaza.”

The article added, “The civilian adviser would be based in the region and work closely with the commanding officer of the force, who would be either Palestinian or from an Arab nation, the people said.”

How this plan actually plays out—whether American troops become involved or not—remains to be determined, but it explains the ongoing and very expensive debacle of the Gaza pier.

The Gaza floating pier—a $329 million U.S. taxpayer boondoggle designed to stave off “famine” in Gaza—ran into rough seas again in June (after a $20 million repair job in April) and is being returned to Ashdod, Israel. Again.

But that’s OK.

Defense Department Spokesman Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder said in late May that, in the department’s estimation, none of the aid from the U.S.-built pier made it to the people of Gaza. He added that the U.S., Israel and the U.N. were discussing “alternative routes” for aid trucks.

He didn’t seem overly worried.   

Perhaps this is because the panic over potential famine in Gaza now appears unfounded. It was a fake designed to malign the State of Israel.

How do we know? The U.N. said so. Really? Yes. The U.N. recently published a report on the situation by its Famine Review Committee (FRC).

Analyst Mark Zlochin noted that the report had been buried by the media, likely because its “conclusions are not consistent with the apocalyptic narrative pushed by the ‘humanitarian organizations’ in the last few months.”

He added that the FRC did not find claims of famine “plausible given the uncertainty and lack of convergence of the supporting evidence.”

Surely the Biden administration had better information than a propaganda broadcast from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry or The New York Times. What was the administration thinking?

It was thinking about gaining access to Gaza without traversing Israel in order to enforce its post-war plans.

Without Israel.

Wandering into someone else’s war and training someone else’s soldiers is very different from providing humanitarian aid to hungry people. Americans should know this. Our experiences in Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq were not good. Our work with the Lebanese Armed Forces and UNIFIL allowed for the expansion of Hezbollah, the wreckage of a once-stable country and an increasing threat to Israel. We’ve been asked to leave Niger, where we worked with their armed forces to combat ISIS in Africa.

And the Palestinians?

After the Oslo Accords, the U.S. established a “Palestinian police force.” (Full disclosure: I met with them in the 1990s in the company of retired American military officers who were clear that the force was an army in training.) By 2005, the Office of U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority was established to “transform and professionalize Palestinian armed groups following the Second Intifada (2000-2005).”  It allowed the formal establishment of a Palestinian army.

After the Palestinian election of Hamas to the legislature in 2006 before the Palestinian civil war in Gaza, the U.S. saw a Palestinian army as a means to control Hamas in Judea and Samaria as well as in Gaza. The plan did not work.

In 2010, Janes’ Defence Weekly wrote that the P.A. had drafted a plan to end American training and supervision. The American general previously “in charge” would be limited to “bringing money and equipment for the security forces. He would not deal with P.A. operations or deployment. … Officials said the P.A. leadership …determined that U.S. intervention was hampering security force development and undermining the legitimacy of the regime.”

The U.S. remained involved.

In 2014, CIA links to the P.A.’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) and the Preventive Security Apparatus (PSA)—though not the “armed forces” trained by the U.S. military—were uncovered.

Human Rights Watch issued a report on the P.A. security forces following hundreds of reports of torture and “extra-curricular” arrests. “The reports of torture by Palestinian security services keep rolling in,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “President [Mahmoud] Abbas and Prime Minister [Salam] Fayyad are well aware of the situation.”

And still are.

It is good news, though no surprise, that the Palestinian people are not starving despite the withholding of aid by Egypt, shelling of the Kerem Shalom crossing and diversion of aid by Hamas, and the failure of the Gaza floating pier.

It would be good news as well if the U.S. would coordinate the plan for Gaza’s future with its ally Israel rather than the P.A., which has a long history of undermining peace and security for its people as well as for Israel.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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