Israeli President Says ‘Strong Force’ May Remain In Gaza After War After Biden Warn Occupation Would Be ‘Big Mistake


Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Thursday said his country may need to maintain a military presence in Gaza after the ongoing war to prevent the re-emergence of Hamas in the Palestinian territory, once again raising the possibility of an Israeli military occupation of the enclave, a solution the Biden administration strongly opposes.

Key Facts

In an interview with the Financial Times, Herzog said Israel would likely need to keep “very strong force” in Gaza for the near future, suggesting that a pullback would create a “vacuum.”

The Israeli President noted that his country’s government is discussing ideas about governing post-war Gaza, but assumes that the US and “our neighbors in the region” will also play a role.

Herzog did not commit to any particular idea, but said no one wants to allow the strip to become “a terror base again.”

Herzog’s interview came just hours after President Joe Biden told reporters in San Francisco he “made it clear” to the Israelis that occupying Gaza would be a “big mistake.”

Biden said he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him that the only answer here was a “two-state solution that is real.”

The president suggested efforts were being made to “bring along” Arab countries but did not offer details saying they were still negotiating “what the next steps are.”

Crucial Quote

“I’m not a fortune teller and I can’t tell you how long it’s [the war] is going to last. But I can tell you I don’t think it ends until there is a two-state solution. I made it clear to the Israelis I think it’s a big mistake for them to think they’re going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza. I don’t think that works,” Biden added.

Key Background

The handling of post-war Gaza has emerged as the biggest point of contention between the U.S. and Israel. Herzog’s interview echoes a comment made by Netanyahu last week, where he told ABC News that his country “for an indefinite period have the overall security responsibility” of Gaza. Netanyahu’s comments were widely perceived as an acknowledgment of plans to occupy the Palestinian territory and triggered concerned comments from the White House. A few days later, the Israeli prime minister told Fox News that his country doesn’t seek to govern or occupy Gaza but to demilitarize, deradicalize and rebuild it—without offering too many details.

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