Biden Backs Internal Revolt in Netanyahu Government over Postwar Gaza

President Joe Biden is backing an internal revolt within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over the fate of postwar Gaza, after defense minister Yoav Gallant publicly declared his opposition to long-term Israeli rule there.

Gallant made an unexpected televised address in which he stated that he was opposed to Israeli military rule or civilian rule in Gaza after Hamas, and preferred rule by non-terrorist Palestinians with help from Arab states.

Gallant said (original emphasis, with translation provided by Israel’s Government Press Office):

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, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas’ rule. This, above all, is an interest of the State of Israel.

Unfortunately, this issue was not raised for debate and worse, [a]n alternative was not raised in its replacement.

Indecision, is in essence, a decision – this leads to a dangerous course, which promotes the idea of Israeli military and civilian governance in Gaza.

I must reiterate – I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military rule in Gaza. Israel must not establish civilian rule in Gaza.

The responsibility to dismantle Hamas and to retain full freedom of operation in the Gaza strip, lies on the defense establishment and the IDF, yet it depends on the creation of a governing alternative in Gaza – which rests on the shoulders of the Israeli government and all its various bodies. 

Its implementation will shape Israel’s security for decades ahead. 

I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, [t]o 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 raised immediately.

The Biden administration, which has been pushing for Palestinian Authority rule in Gaza after the war, en route to a Palestinian state, applauded Gallant’s remarks. The Times of Israel reported:

“We share the defense minister’s concern that Israel has not developed any plans for holding and governing territory the IDF clears, thereby allowing Hamas to regenerate in those areas. This is a concern because our objective is to see Hamas defeated,” a senior Biden administration official tells The Times of Israel in a statement.

Netanyahu has discussed a possible future for Gaza in somewhat utopian terms, as a center of trade and commerce, run by Palestinians — albeit without formal sovereignty. In response to a question from Breitbart News on Wednesday — before Gallant’s speech — the Israeli government said that formal planning for “the day after” had to await Hamas’s defeat.

Netanyahu himself responded to Gallant’s speech on Wednesday with a speech of his own, stating that he would not allow Gaza, the former “Hamastan,” to become “Fatahstan,” referring to the political party that runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

(As Breitbart News, citing Israel’s Channel 7, reported Tuesday, Fatah claims to have participated in the October 7 attack, and the Palestinian Authority continues to subsidize and celebrate terror.)

Meanwhile, far-right politicians demanded that Gallant be fired from the government. Benny Gantz, the main rival to Netanyahu, who serves alongside the prime minister in an emergency government of national unity, defended Gallant, while opposition leader Yair Lapid said that the government had fallen into chaos.

Retired Brigadier General Amir Avivi, a popular conservative voice, rebuked Gallant and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, who is known to be pressuring the civilian leadership to produce a plan for postwar Gaza.

Avivi declared (in Hebrew) that defeating Hamas militarily had to come before any discussion of postwar governance.

“Building an alternative will take time. You will have to take responsibility for the [Gaza] Strip, also for the humanitarian [situation]. There’s nothing to be done [about that]. … But that’s not now! Now, we have to win!”

Hamas, predictably, claimed that the political tumult was a sign that Israel was losing the war in Gaza and the terrorists were winning.

Gallant has publicly attacked Netanyahu before — notably in March 2023, when the defense minister publicly stated his opposition to Netanyahu’s judicial reforms while the prime minister was out of the country and protests raged in the streets.

The White House has supported Gallant, Gantz, Lapid, and others who have challenged Netanyahu. The current crisis — which seemed totally unprovoked by any particular event — could reflect Biden administration frustration with the Israeli attack on Hamas in Rafah, which the U.S. opposed.

In the face of Israel’s determination to attack Hamas in Rafah, where the terror group’s last battalions are based, the White House has withheld some arms shipments, while trying to minimize the crisis by claiming that Israel’s attack is not yet a “major” operation, though it continues to expand.

Breitbart News has noted that Israel could face the prospect of a so-called “color revolution,” backed by the Biden administration, which has resented the Netanyahu government ever since it was elected in November 2022.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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