Egypt, UAE reportedly ready to participate in post-Hamas security force

Cairo and Abu Dhabi were said to have demanded that Israel agree to a pathway to establishing a Palestinian state


Palestinians rush trucks as they transport international humanitarian aid from the US-built Trident Pier near Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on May 18, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are willing to participate in a post-war Gaza security force alongside “local Palestinian officers”, on the condition that Israel agrees to a pathway to a Palestinian state, three officials familiar with the talks told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

According to the report, Cairo also demanded a full withdrawal of Israel Defence Forces troops from the coastal enclave, while Abu Dhabi has requested “US involvement” in the security of Gaza after the conflict.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly told his Arab counterparts during a regional tour earlier this month that Washington would help establish and train the new Palestinian security force, which would have a temporary mandate so that it could eventually be replaced by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, one of the sources stated.

It was not immediately clear from where these “local Palestinian officers” would be recruited. Blinken said Washington would not send troops to participate in the operation on the ground, the official said.

The Biden administration’s plans for the “day after” Hamas include plans for security, governance and reconstruction, the officials said, adding that Washington hopes Saudi Arabia will lead the latter effort.

The officials said that as for governance, Blinken told his counterparts that the goal would be to establish a transitional Palestinian government that would work closely with Arab countries.

Responding to the report on Thursday, a spokesperson for the US State Department told The Times of Israel, “We are continuing discussions with the PA, key partners, and the Israelis on day-after planning for Gaza, to include governance, security and reconstruction.”

“A day-after plan for Gaza will be key to building an enduring end to the conflict, but also turning an end of the war into a just and durable peace, and using that peace as a foundation for building a more integrated, a more stable, a more prosperous region,” the spokesperson concluded.

Israel is considering transferring power to local bodies not regarded as hostile. Jerusalem’s draft plan calls for civilian rule through the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration and the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, with local Arab companies providing services.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on 9 May said 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”.

However, Israel is unlikely to acquiesce to the demands made by Egypt and the UAE, with Netanyahu repeatedly having stressed that the IDF should retain security control for as long as needed to ensure that the Strip never again becomes a terrorist threat to the Jewish state.

In addition, the Knesset on 21 February voted 99-11 to back the government’s decision to reject any unilateral recognition of “Palestine”. All coalition lawmakers and most members of the Zionist opposition parties backed the declaration.

“Eighty percent of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the terrible massacre of October 7. This evil cannot be given a state,” stated Netanyahu on 22 May. “This would be a terrorist state. It will try to repeat the massacre of October 7 again and again.”

On Tuesday, Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that once the IDF destroys Hamas’s military and civil rule, 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.

“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,” he stated.

“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, that there will be a so-called top-down leadership, and not only bottom-up,” he continued.

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

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