There can be no doubt that the development of a plan for postwar Gaza warrants all the attention it’s receiving. Ironically, the debate over future governance in the Strip also shows why it’s been so difficult for any ideas to get farther than the drawing board.

Last night, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made headlines with a speech on the political situation in the Gaza Strip. “As long as Hamas retains control over civilian life in Gaza, it may rebuild and strengthen, thus requiring the IDF to return and fight in areas where it has already operated. We must dismantle Hamas’s governing capabilities in Gaza. The key to this goal is military action and the establishment of a governing alternative in Gaza,” Gallant said.

Gallant rules out two of the obvious candidates: Israel or Hamas. The point of this war is to displace Hamas, after all. He also prods Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly disavow any postwar civilian or military role for Israel. “The end of the military campaign must come together with political action. 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’s rule. This, above all, is an interest of the State of Israel. Unfortunately, this issue was not raised for discussion, and worse, no alternative was brought up in its place.”

That last sentence explains why Gallant elected to make a televised speech: Very simply, he feels he isn’t being listened to and this was the only way to commandeer Netanyahu’s attention. It’s a double-edged sword, though, in that it brings more international pressure to bear on Israel, and it isn’t always possible to keep such pressure from spreading beyond issue at hand. Nevertheless, Gallant obviously thought the gamble worth it.

Once you start looking for specifics, it’s easy to see why it’s so difficult to unequivocally rule out any Israeli role on the security or civilian side. Certainly the goal is to have a plan in place, but… what would a readymade government look like?

Gallant says it’s a Palestinian government. On Day One, that’s a tall order and arguably an unrealistic one. It is, however, the consensus long-term goal: Palestinian self-government that does not involve Hamas.

The only existing Palestinian governing structure that could conceivably take over immediately is the Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, which rules the West Bank. And yet, last week, Israel and the U.S. tried to bring Abbas into the process by having members of the Palestinian Authority man the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Abbas balked. He wanted a concession from one of the Israeli government’s hardline ministers in return. That is, Abbas acted as though the process of Israel eliminating his rival and handing him uncontested power was some favor that Abbas was doing for Israel.

So Gallant is right about the ideal solution, but Bibi can’t force Abbas to take the handoff.

We’ve been running around in this particular circle for a while now. The next-best option after immediate Palestinian self-government would be some kind of stewardship by Arab allies who oppose Hamas. That rules out Qatar. Egypt, which occupied Gaza before Israel took over between 1967 and 2005, doesn’t seem to want Gaza back. What about a broader Arab coalition, such as the Arab League? Well, earlier today, the Arab League called for the United Nations to do it. UN peacekeepers are such a bad idea that the Biden administration couldn’t even pretend to consider it. “Candidly, the addition of security forces could potentially put [Israel’s current] mission [against Hamas] into compromise,” a State Department spokesman said.

What about a more limited coalition of trusted Arab partners? We actually got a bite on that line yesterday. According to the Financial Times, quoting a “Western” official: “Arab states have said it should be US-led so the US is trying to work out how it can lead it without having boots on the ground. Three Arab states have had initial discussions, including Egypt, the UAE and Morocco, but they would want the US to recognize a Palestinian state first.”

So the idea is: Until there’s a Palestinian state, these Arab states would take joint custody of the Strip—but refuse to do so unless the U.S. recognizes a Palestinian state, which would make the need for an in-between peacekeeping force unnecessary. Is this a riddle?

Gaza is starting to remind me of the Red Lobster in Silver Spring, which today sold off the entire contents of its location for a paltry $7,000. Then again, at least the Red Lobster found a taker. Maybe Gaza will too.

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