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DM Gallant demands Netanyahu make decision on ‘day after’ in Gaza, PM hits back: ‘Need to eliminate Hamas first’

‘I won’t agree to Israeli military rule in Gaza,’ Gallant declares

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks during a press conference at Defense Headquarters in Tel Aviv, May 15, 2024. (Photo: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant kicked off a potential political crisis on Wednesday evening when he savagely attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his indecision on governing the Gaza Strip after the war.

In his first press briefing in several months, Gallant stressed he would not allow an outcome where Israel would continue to govern the Gaza Strip after the war.

The defense minister further charged that he had been raising the issue repeatedly since October and that no alternative solution had been presented so far.

“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,” Gallant said during the briefing.

“Indecision, is in essence, a decision – this leads to a dangerous course, which promotes the idea of Israeli military and civilian governance in Gaza… [this] would become the main security and military effort of the State of Israel over the coming years.”

“The price paid would be bloodshed and victims, as well as a heavy economic price,” he continued. “I will not agree to the establishment of Israeli military rule in Gaza. Israel must not establish civilian rule in Gaza.”

Turning directly to Netanyahu, Gallant demanded the prime minister “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 defense minister added that Israel’s leaders must make “tough decisions,” even in the face of possible “personal or political costs,” echoing accusations made by Netanyahu's critics that he was preventing a hostage deal for political reasons.

Netanyahu hit back soon after Gallant’s remarks, declaring that he wasn’t “ready to replace Hamastan with Fatahstan” in a video statement released that same evening.

The prime minister has repeatedly stated in the past that he would not allow Fatah, the largest faction in the Palestinian Authority (PA), to take over the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has advocated for a “renewed” PA to assume control of the enclave after the war.

“As long as Hamas remains intact, no other party will step in to manage civilian affairs in Gaza, certainly not the Palestinian Authority. 80 percent of the Palestinians in Judea and Samaria support the terrible massacre of October 7,” Netanyahu said.

The PA has governed the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank, since the Oslo Accords in the 90s.

“The Palestinian Authority supports terror, educates for terror, funds terror. And so the first condition for preparing the ground for another party is to eliminate Hamas, and to do so without excuses,” the prime minister added.

After Gallant's statement, who had been temporarily dismissed by Netanyahu last year for not supporting the government's judicial reform, several coalition members publicly criticized his remarks. Among them were several colleagues of Gallant in the Likud party, including Justice Minister Yariv Levin and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, as well as politicians farther on the right, like National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir who once championed the idea of reestablishing Israeli settlements in Gaza.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich demanded the cabinet hold a vote to prevent the PA from being involved in the Gaza Strip’s governance, and for Gallant to be fired if he voted against.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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