Arab nations must have a say in future governance of the besieged Palestinian enclave, US officials apparently believe
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is spearheading talks with his counterparts from Arab countries over how to govern Gaza once Israel has completed its military operation in the besieged enclave, the Wall Street Journal said on Thursday.
The issue is expected to be raised during Blinken’s current visit to the region, the newspaper wrote citing officials familiar with the talks. The US official arrived in Israel early on Friday where he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in what is his third trip to the country since Hamas’ cross-border attack on October 7. Blinken is also expected to make a stop in Jordan on the trip.
“The major stakeholders are engaged in these discussions,” Ben Cardin, the Democratic Senator from Maryland, said, according to the WSJ. “You have to have a credible administrator that can come into Gaza to provide opportunities for Palestinians.”
The WSJ notes that there isn’t yet a Washington-backed plan as to how post-war Gaza should be run – though one option, it says, is for the territory to be temporarily governed by a multinational force from the region.
According to the paper, the US understands that any governance plan must receive backing from nearby Arab countries. “I think the US would need to accept that Qatar, Türkiye, Egypt and Jordan have to play a role,” added Tuqa Nusairat of the Atlantic Council’s Middle East program, per the WSJ.
“At some point, what would make the most sense would be for an effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority (PA) to have governance and ultimately secure responsibility for Gaza,” Blinken told the US Senate earlier this week. However, the WSJ said that there is a belief among some officials that the PA may be seen as “too weak” to effectively govern Gaza in the short term.
Brian Katulis, vice president of policy at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said that drawing up specific plans in the midst of an Israeli ground operation is “like asking about cleaning up after a Category 5 hurricane right as it’s happening.”
Hamas’s attack last month, and Israel’s subsequent retaliatory operations, have severely impacted efforts to bridge divides and normalize relations between the Jewish state and its Arab neighbors. On Wednesday, Jordan recalled its ambassador from Israel in objection to its bombardment of Gaza.
At least 9,000 people have so far died in Gaza, Palestinian officials say, of which about 70% are women, children and the elderly. About 1,400, mostly civilians, were killed in Hamas’ assault on October 7, Israeli officials have reported.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has emphasized Moscow’s belief that a two-state solution is the only viable remedy to the Israel-Gaza issue. In an interview with BELTA news agency last month, he warned that “without the creation of a Palestinian state through negotiations” the possibility of a renewed conflict between Jewish state and figures in the unstable Palestinian territory would not diminish.