U.S. Strongly Supports Israel’s Military Campaign Against Hamas, But the Future Remains Uncertain

by Ethan Kim
U.S.-Israel Strategy on Gaza

In recent comments, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized that a post-conflict governance of the Gaza Strip by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority would be the most logical outcome. However, he omitted to note that the Palestinian Authority, already seen as frail and largely disapproved by its own populace, has expressed no desire to assume control of Gaza with Israel’s assistance.

Blinken’s statements mirror what many experts perceive as the short-term approach and speculative assumptions that have directed U.S. and Israeli strategy. These strategies were put in motion after Israel initiated a military campaign to counter Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault, an attack that resulted in the deaths of over 1,400 people and the kidnapping of approximately 240 others.

In spite of the unequivocal U.S. support, Israel’s primary objectives—securing the release of all hostages and eliminating Hamas—present formidable challenges. Moreover, neither nation has articulated a comprehensive plan for Gaza’s future once the conflict concludes.

Israeli Cabinet Minister Ron Dermer, a key advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized over the weekend that while there is a unified stance against Hamas’s governance of Gaza, the discussion of other options is premature at this juncture.

At a U.S. Senate hearing, Blinken also rejected the notion of a long-term Israeli occupation of Gaza, a position Israel itself does not favor. Instead, he proposed that an effective and rejuvenated Palestinian Authority could eventually assume governance and security responsibilities for Gaza, an idea requiring regional support and likely a lengthy timeline.

However, the viability of this suggestion appears questionable at best. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has partial authority over some areas of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, is not a popular figure among Palestinians. Public opinion indicates that his administration is perceived as corrupt and as facilitating Israeli dominance in the West Bank.

According to anonymous Palestinian officials, in a mid-October meeting with Blinken, Abbas made it explicitly clear he would not govern Gaza in the aftermath of an Israeli military operation unless a lasting diplomatic solution was in place.

Tahani Mustafa, a senior analyst at the International Crisis Group, articulated that the Palestinian Authority lacks the capacity to effectively govern Gaza. Established with the aim of leading Palestinians toward independence, the authority now functions merely as a service provider under the overarching Israeli control.

Various proposals for Gaza’s future have emerged from Israeli quarters, none of which entertain the possibility of Palestinian independence. These include creating a “buffer zone” in northern Gaza, a move that does not address the region’s long-term status.

An Israeli Intelligence Ministry paper examined several potential outcomes, dismissing the idea of Palestinian statehood and suggesting other options fraught with complications and shortcomings, including mass expulsion of Palestinians to Egypt—a notion rejected by both Palestinians and Egyptians.

This line of thought indicates what many analysts view as a profound misunderstanding of the Palestinians’ historical relationship with Israel. While both Israel and the U.S. frequently equate Hamas with extremist organizations like the Islamic State, their ideologies significantly diverge.

Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst and former peace negotiator, opined that U.S. administrations have consistently lacked a nuanced understanding of Gaza’s complexities. She urged a long-term vision that would offer Palestinians freedom and establish a true political and economic bridge between the West Bank and Gaza, which are separated by Israeli territory.

In sum, even if Israel achieves its immediate goals, the absence of a long-term strategy for Gaza raises questions about the sustainability of any post-conflict arrangements and the ongoing cycle of resistance and conflict in the region.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about U.S.-Israel Strategy on Gaza

What is the U.S. stance on Israel’s military actions against Hamas in Gaza?

The U.S. has strongly backed Israel’s military campaign against Hamas. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has indicated that the most logical post-conflict governance of Gaza would be by the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.

What are Israel’s primary objectives in its military campaign against Hamas?

Israel, with strong backing from the U.S., aims to achieve two primary objectives: to secure the release of all hostages taken by Hamas and to eliminate Hamas as the governing force in Gaza.

What is the Palestinian Authority’s position on governing Gaza after the conflict?

The Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, has shown no interest in assuming control of Gaza if assisted by Israel. Abbas is not popular among Palestinians, and his administration is widely perceived as corrupt.

What are some of the proposed solutions for the future governance of Gaza?

Various solutions have been suggested, including the Palestinian Authority taking control or the creation of a “buffer zone” in northern Gaza. However, none of these proposals seem to offer a long-term solution to the region’s governance issues.

What do analysts say about the U.S. and Israeli approach to the Gaza conflict?

Analysts often criticize the U.S. and Israeli approach as short-term and based on questionable assumptions. They point out that neither country has a comprehensive plan for Gaza’s future governance.

Are there any proposals that consider Palestinian statehood?

None of the recently floated Israeli proposals for Gaza’s future include the possibility of Palestinian statehood. In fact, an Israeli Intelligence Ministry paper described a return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza as the worst option, saying it would not guarantee Israel’s security.

What are the main criticisms against the Palestinian Authority’s capability to govern Gaza?

The Palestinian Authority is criticized for being weak, corrupt, and essentially functioning as a service provider under overarching Israeli control, rather than a government with political substance.

How do the ideologies of Hamas and Islamic State differ?

While both are extremist organizations, their goals and ideologies significantly differ. The Islamic State aims for a global jihad against the West, recruiting foreign fighters for this purpose. In contrast, Hamas has a more localized focus, aimed at combating Israel.

What do experts say about the U.S.’ understanding of Palestinians?

Experts like Diana Buttu, a Palestinian analyst, say that the U.S. has consistently lacked a nuanced understanding of the complexities of Gaza and the broader Palestinian territories. She calls for a long-term vision that offers Palestinians freedom and establishes a true political and economic connection between the West Bank and Gaza.

Is there a long-term strategy in place for the governance of Gaza?

As of now, neither Israel nor the U.S. appears to have a long-term strategy for the governance of Gaza, leading to concerns about the sustainability of any post-conflict arrangements.

More about U.S.-Israel Strategy on Gaza

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Remarks on Gaza
  • Israel’s Military Objectives in Gaza
  • Palestinian Authority’s Stance on Governance
  • Analysts’ Views on U.S.-Israel Policy in Gaza
  • Israeli Proposals for Future Governance of Gaza
  • Criticisms Against the Palestinian Authority
  • Ideological Differences Between Hamas and Islamic State
  • U.S. Understanding of Palestinians: An Expert Opinion
  • Long-term Strategies for Gaza’s Governance

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Tara S. November 1, 2023 - 11:58 pm

I agree with Diana Buttu. US just doesn’t get it. We need a long-term vision that actually considers the Palestinian people, not just strategic interests.

Alan G. November 2, 2023 - 3:04 am

Ideological differences between Hamas and IS are key. lumping them together doesn’t do justice to the complexities of the situation.

Kevin M. November 2, 2023 - 8:23 am

So many questionable assumptions on all sides. What’s the endgame here? Seems like no one has a clue and they’re just winging it.

Emily H. November 2, 2023 - 9:23 am

This is just like a political quagmire. US & Israel back each other, but what about the people living there? what’s their future? seems like nobody’s thinking about that.

Mike L. November 2, 2023 - 11:14 am

The Palestinian Authority stepping in? With Abbas in charge? They already got enough problems, and now they’re gonna inherit Gaza too? Doesn’t make sense to me.

Sarah T. November 2, 2023 - 11:54 am

i can’t believe there’s talk about a “buffer zone” but no serious discussion on Palestinian statehood. What are they thinking? Seriously, someone needs to give this a deeper thought.

John D. November 2, 2023 - 8:22 pm

Wow, this is some heavy stuff. I mean, where’s the long-term thinking from both US and Israel? Seems like they’re just pushing forward without a clear plan for Gaza’s future.


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