After Hamas, Then What?

After Hamas, Then What? March 4, 2024

Daniel Pipes, president of The Middle East Forum and author of Islamism vs. the West: 35 Years of Geopolitical Struggle, has authored an interesting article entitled “Netanyahu’s Bold, Realistic Plan for ‘the Day After Hamas'” that was published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday. It begins with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brief document announced last month entitled “The Day After Hamas.” Indeed, the prime minister had been criticized for not speaking up on this subject soon after Hamas—the Islamic organization that had governed the Gaza Strip and the U.S. had designated for years as a “terrorist organization”—had brutally attacked Israel on October 7 last year, killed 1,200 Israelis, and taken about 240 Israeli hostages back to its intricate tunnel system in the Gaza Strip. That set off a still ongoing war in which the Israel Defense Forces invaded the Strip and so far has reportedly killed over 30,000 Palestinian residents there.

Pipes says of this Netanyahu document, “Its key passage states that Jerusalem plans to work primarily with Gazans to rebuild their territory.” It says they must “not [be] identified with countries or organizations supporting terrorism.” Pipes adds that the IDF is in the process of identifying “humanitarian pockets” of such Gaza citizens.

Since the U.S. is Israel’s #1 ally and supplier of military weapons mostly with which Israel is conducting this war, the U.S. Biden administration is deeply involved in advising Israel, whether it listens or not. The administration has announced that it prefers that the Palestinian Authority—which controls Palestinians living in the West Bank and, in doing so, largely works in cooperation with Israel—will after the war in Gaza become the governing entity there, also in cooperation with Israel. However, the PA has a poor reputation with Palestinians and is known for widespread corruption.

One of the main problems with life in the Gaza Strip has been that Hamas has been quite repressive of its citizens and secretive about its governing there. This has prevented unbiased polls being taken of Gaza citizens to learn what they really believe and what they want and especially what they think of Hamas. For, Hamas has always been very committed and vocal about its desire for the complete obliteration of the nation of Israel. But it appears that this war is contributing to Gaza citizens turning against Hamas.

Pipes relates that last summer, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy was able to take such an unbiased poll of Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Because unemployment is usually greater than 50% in the Gaza Strip, the poll “found that 61% wish that more Israeli jobs were offered to those living in Gaza and the West Bank. … Seventy-two percent say ‘Hamas has been unable to improve the lives of Palestinians in Gaza,’ and 82% agree that ‘Palestinians should push harder to replace their own political leaders with more effective and less corrupt ones.’ Eighty-seven percent find that ‘many people are more preoccupied with their personal lives than with politics.'”

Pipes also relates that another survey as taken by a group named Arab Barometer days after this war began, and it found that “the vast majority of Gazans have been frustrated with the armed group’s [Hamas] ineffective governance as they endure extreme economic hardship.” Pipes also says that since the war began, crowds in Gaza have been videotaped chanting, “Down with Hamas,” cursing its leaders, and yelling, “The people want to end the war. … We want to live!”

Pipes then concludes, “Israel, therefore, can reasonably expect to find many cooperative Gazans ready to establish a new governing authority capable of taking on a range of tasks.”

If such a “Day After Hamas” resulted from this war in Gaza, a self-governing Gaza Strip might become a more viable entity in cooperation with Israel than the Palestinian West Bank controlled by the PA that would have a better chance of becoming a Palestinian state. And this possibility is enhanced by the fact that so many religious Jews in the West Bank claim it as their ancestral land which they want annexed to Israel. Thus, I think this current development of a war in Gaza might lead to the creation of a Palestinian state there, which would be expanded due to a land swap involving the West Bank as I have always maintained publicly since 1990, the year of the publishing of the my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia.

 

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