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Israeli Officials Weigh Sharing Power With Arab States in Postwar Gaza

WorldIsraeli Officials Weigh Sharing Power With Arab States in Postwar Gaza

For months, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has avoided detailed public discussion about Gaza’s postwar future. Trying to placate both his far-right allies, who seek to rebuild Israeli settlements in Gaza, and Israel’s foreign partners, who want Gaza returned to Palestinian governance, Mr. Netanyahu has stopped short of any specific declaration.

Behind the scenes, however, senior officials in his office have been weighing an expansive plan for postwar Gaza, in which Israel would offer to share oversight of the territory with an alliance of Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as the United States, according to three Israeli officials and five people who have discussed the plan with members of the Israeli government.

According to that proposal, Israel would do so in exchange for normalized relations between itself and Saudi Arabia, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the matter.

Far-right members of Mr. Netanyahu’s coalition are almost certain to dismiss such an idea, and so are the Arab countries mentioned as possible participants. But it is the clearest sign yet that officials at the highest levels of Israel’s government are thinking about Gaza’s postwar future, despite saying little in public, and could be a starting point in future negotiations.

The disclosure comes against the backdrop of intense international efforts to get Israel and Hamas to agree to a cease-fire that could eventually become a permanent truce, and it follows growing pressure on Israel to plan for what comes next. Israel’s reluctance to determine how to govern Gaza has created a power vacuum in much of the territory, leading to lawlessness and worsening the dire humanitarian situation.

Arab officials and analysts have called the power-sharing plan unworkable because it does not create an explicit path toward a Palestinian state, which the Emirati and Saudi governments have said is a prerequisite for their involvement in postwar planning. But others have cautiously welcomed the proposal because it at least suggests greater flexibility among Israeli leaders than their public statements suggest.


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