Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly states for the first time that Israel does not seek to displace Palestinians in the war against Hamas, after a growing number of regional leaders expressed fears that this was Jerusalem’s ulterior motive.
“We don’t seek to displace anyone,” Netanyahu tells Fox News.
“What we’re trying to do is get the Gazans in the northern part of the Gaza Strip where the fighting has taken place to move one to four miles south where we have established a safe zone,” the prime minister continues. “We want to see field hospitals. We’re encouraging and enabling humanitarian help to go there. That’s how we’re fighting this war.”
He also provides new details regarding Israel’s vision for what Gaza will look like after the war.
“What we have to see is Gaza demilitarized, deradicalized and rebuilt. All of that can be achieved,” Netanyahu says.
“We don’t seek to conquer Gaza. We don’t seek to occupy Gaza. And we don’t seek to govern Gaza,” the premier adds, falling in line with the stance expressed by the Biden administration, which has expressed its desire for the Palestinian Authority to return to governing Gaza in a manner that will reunite the territory with the West Bank politically and pave the way toward a two-state solution.
Netanyahu does not go as far, as his government continues its acrimonious relationship with the PA. The premier says, however, “We’ll have to find a civilian government that will be there.”
He then adds that “In the foreseeable future… We have to have a credible force that if necessary, will enter Gaza and kill the killers. That’s what will prevent the emergence of another Hamas-like entity.”
This appears to be a new variation of what Netanyahu told ABC News on Monday, when he said Israel will have “overall security responsibility” over the Gaza Strip “for an indefinite period” after the war against Hamas ends.
“But what I expect to see is a rebuilt Gaza for the Gazans,” Netanyahu tells Fox News.
It is the second interview Netanyahu has given to American media this week, after he avoided any interviews for much of the first month of the war.
The prime minister previously went on a media blitz to various American media outlets to try to soothe criticism of his government’s now-frozen judicial overhaul, but has blackballed mainstream Israeli media since taking office last December, a strategy which has largely shielded him from having to answer critics.