Netanyahu rebukes Gallant’s call to rule out Israelis governing Gaza

‘I am not willing to exchange Hamastan for Fatahstan’ Netanyahu said in a video statement responding to his defense minister


Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant attend a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv (Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other members of his coalition slammed Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday night after he demanded that the government commit to Palestinian control over the Gaza Strip after the war with Hamas ends.

"I am not willing to exchange Hamastan for Fatahstan," Netanyahu said in a video statement, with the latter term referring to Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah Party.

The premier reiterated that the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority "supports terrorism, teaches terrorism and funds terrorism."

"The first condition for 'the day after' is to eliminate Hamas, with no excuses," he added, addressing criticism by Gallant and the Biden administration that Israel does not have an exit plan for Gaza.

Netanyahu's remarks came shortly after Gallant urged the government to "make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza Strip, that Israel will not establish military governance in the Gaza Strip, and that a governing alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip will be promoted immediately."

"Since October, I have been raising this issue consistently in the Cabinet and have received no response. The end of the military campaign must come together with political action. The 'day after Hamas' will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors," claimed the defense minister.

The Biden administration has insisted that an "effective and revitalized Palestinian Authority" should ultimately govern the Gaza Strip—a move Netanyahu has rejected because of Ramallah's support for and history of terrorism.

Senior coalition officials on Wednesday night called on Netanyahu to fire Gallant over his public opposition to the government's stated policy.

"Minister Gallant today announced his support for the establishment of a Palestinian terrorist state as a reward for Hamas for the most horrific massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust," said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in a statement cited by the Ynet outlet.

"I demand that the prime minister request Gallant choose between implementing government policy and returning the keys," he added.

Itamar Ben-Gvir claimed that Gallant believes "there is no difference whether Gaza is ruled by IDF soldiers or by Hamas murderers."

"This is, in essence, the concept of the minister who failed on Oct. 7 and continues to fail. Such a defense minister must be replaced in order to achieve the goals of the war," tweeted Ben-Gvir.

Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, also of the Likud Party, said he "can agree with him on one thing: As long as he is defense minister, military rule is definitely a bad option."

The Israeli government is set to discuss a proposal under which its military would administer the Gaza Strip for six months to a year following the war, the Kan News broadcaster reported earlier this week.

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

The proposal was recently discussed in the National Security Council, and security and political officials are reportedly talking with relevant parties before presenting the plan to the Cabinet.

Netanyahu said during an interview that aired on Thursday 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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