Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cast more doubt on the future of the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinian Authority as it stands now should not take responsibility for the coastal enclave.
Israel has vowed to destroy the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules Gaza, after its cross-border attack on October 7 and has launched a full-scale invasion of the enclave.
However, he has not said who should exercise authority in the enclave when the war ends, saying only that Israel will maintain overall security.
Washington has said Israel cannot take over the Gaza Strip after the war, with Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken saying last week that Gaza’s administration should be reunited with the West Bank, parts of which are administered by the Palestinian Authority. (PA).
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Friday that the PA may have a future role in governing the Gaza Strip, but Netanyahu said late Saturday that he did not want the current PA leaders to be given complete freedom in Gaza. .
At a news conference, Netanyahu voiced his long-standing grievances about the PA’s school curricula, which he says incites hatred of Israel, and its policy of paying wages to Palestinian families imprisoned in Israel.
Such an organization should not take control of Gaza, he told reporters.
Speaking to NBC today, he was even more emphatic.
“We need a different beginning. We need a different administration,” Netanyahu said. Answering a question about what kind of body he will be, he replied: “I think it’s too early to say.”
Nabil Abu Rudayna, a spokesman for Abbas, told Reuters the Israelis seek to perpetuate divisions between the two Palestinian territories — the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.
“Israeli efforts to separate Gaza from the West Bank will fail, and this will not be allowed, regardless of pressure,” he told Reuters.
The PA ruled the West Bank and Gaza but was ousted from the latter in 2007 after a brief civil war with Hamas.
Although Western governments want to involve the PA in Gaza’s future, diplomats say, there is also concern that 87-year-old Mahmoud Abbas does not have enough power or popular support to take control.
“Right now, there is no clear idea of what might happen in Gaza when the war stops,” said a Jerusalem-based diplomat.
In addition, the Israeli prime minister referred to the possibility of an agreement for the release of the hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, during an interview he gave to the American network NBC.
Netanyahu was responding to a question about the possibility of an agreement regarding women, children and the elderly taken hostage.
“Any chance of a deal?” the reporter asked him. “It could,” answered the Israeli prime minister, “but, I think, the less I express myself on this issue, the more I increase the chances that it will materialize,” he said, clarifying that things are progressing thanks to Israeli military pressure.
“We’re not close at all [σε μια συμφωνία] until we started operations on the ground,” he said. “But once we started the attacks on the ground, things started to change.”
“Putting pressure on the leaders of Hamas is what can result in an agreement, and if an agreement is available, we will talk about it when it is here, we will announce it if it is reached,” he added.
The Israeli military estimates that around 240 people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip after the initial attack by Hamas. Among them, at least thirty minors including small children, according to Israeli media.
On condition of anonymity, a Palestinian official in Gaza told AFP that Benjamin Netanyahu was “responsible for the delay and obstacles to finding a preliminary agreement to release many hostages.”
The Israeli Prime Minister was also asked about the issue of patients in Gaza hospitals caught up in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, and especially about the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where thousands of people, sick and displaced, are located.
“There’s no reason we can’t get the patients out of there,” he said. “We tell them to leave,” he emphasized, when asked more generally about the situation of civilians in hospitals. And “we’re helping them by creating safe corridors,” he said. “We have planned routes to a safe zone, south of Gaza City.”
According to Netanyahu, about a hundred patients have been removed from al-Shifa Hospital.