The US and Israel are considering establishing a multinational force to occupy the Gaza Strip if Israel successfully eliminates Hamas, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The idea would be to grant temporary oversight of Gaza to countries in the region backed by a force with troops from the US, Britain, France, and Germany. Sources told Bloomberg that, ideally, the force would also include Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The report said President Biden was aware deploying US troops to Gaza would carry huge political risks and that the discussions are still at an early stage. The Palestinians would almost certainly resist the idea of a Western force occupying Gaza.
The idea is one of three options being considered for a potential post-war Gaza, although Israeli officials have said the current conflict could last years. The second option includes establishing a peacekeeping force similar to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), the group that operates in Sinai to enforce the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. The other option would grant temporary control of Gaza to the UN.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday acknowledged the US was considering what would become of Gaza if Israel defeats Hamas. “We can’t have a reversion to the status quo with Hamas running Gaza,” Blinken said. “We also can’t have — and the Israelis start with this proposition themselves — Israel running or controlling Gaza. Between those shoals are a variety of possible permutations that we’re looking at very closely now, as are other countries.”
A leaked document from Israel’s Intelligence Ministry has revealed that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering pushing all of the Palestinians living in Gaza into Egypt, but that would require the cooperation of Cairo, which has firmly rejected the idea.