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Disagreements emerge over who should be in control of Gaza when the war ends


President Biden's national security adviser is in Israel, trying to get the various parties to the Israel-Hamas war to focus on the future. Who should be in charge of Gaza when the war ends? The U.S. and Israel do not share the same vision. NPR's Daniel Estrin reports on the main proposals.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: U.S. officials talk about the day after - that's when the intensive fighting is over - and the day after the day after, which is the long-term vision. For the U.S., it's ending Hamas rule in Gaza, having the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership take charge and creating a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Vice President Kamala Harris.


VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS: We want to see a unified Gaza and West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian voices and aspirations must be at the center of this work.

ESTRIN: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week thanked the U.S. for its support, but added yes, there is disagreement about the day after Hamas.


PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: (Non-English language spoken).

ESTRIN: He said he would not allow Gaza to be ruled by the current Palestinian Authority. Israeli analysts say Netanyahu has his own concerns. There may be new elections. Netanyahu may try to compensate for his government's security failure with the October 7 attacks by positioning himself as the right-wing leader who will prevent a Palestinian state. Former Israeli peace mediator Barak Greenapple.

BARAK GREENAPPLE: Most likely, Netanyahu will be the one leading Israel, at least in the short term after the war is over, and his aspirations regarding Gaza are most important to take into consideration.

ESTRIN: Vice President Harris has laid out three main areas of focus for postwar Gaza.


HARRIS: One - reconstruction.

ESTRIN: Rebuilding Gaza's decimated infrastructure and homes. The oil-rich Arab countries in the Gulf are expected to finance a lot of that, but they have their own demands, including a Palestinian state. Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed al-Ansari.

MAJED AL-ANSARI: Transferring the problem by saying that the international community should come in post this conflict and just foot the bill for all the destruction that happened - it is the occupier that needs to think of their occupation before we say that the international community should come in.

ESTRIN: Another huge issue for the day after is security. Who will patrol Gaza and prevent attacks on Israel? Vice President Harris again.


HARRIS: Until then, there must be security arrangements that are acceptable to Israel, the people of Gaza, the Palestinian Authority and the international partners.

ESTRIN: Israel still wants the freedom to carry out military raids in Gaza whenever it wants, like what it does in the West Bank. Michael Milshtein is a Palestinian affairs expert, now serving as a reservist soldier in the war, doing strategic analysis for the Israeli military. He says after October 7, Palestinian forces cannot be trusted to patrol their own borders.

MICHAEL MILSHTEIN: It is obvious that the main gates from this entity and the world must be controlled by other forces, which are not Palestinians, also Israelis, but maybe also an international forces.

ESTRIN: The U.S. has suggested that some former Palestinian security personnel in Gaza, who are not loyal to Hamas, could help build a future security force. And then there's the final issue. Who will govern Gaza's day-to-day civilian affairs? Some Israeli and Western diplomats have raised the idea of Gaza's tribal leaders, prominent families of each city, taking charge. But Palestinians say it shouldn't be up to others to choose their own leaders. Palestinian activist Fadi Quran.

FADI QURAN: Nobody will be accepted by Palestinian society unless Palestinians feel that that person is there to represent their will and they chose them.

ESTRIN: Many Palestinians support Marwan Barghouti as a replacement for the current leader, Mahmoud Abbas, but Barghouti is in Israeli prison for his role in the Palestinian uprising in the 2000s. Many here think he could be freed in a big prisoner swap for the Israeli hostages in Gaza. Quran says it's dangerous for activists in the West Bank to even talk about replacing the Palestinian Authority leadership now during the war.

QURAN: Those who even discuss it can be arrested or harassed. But this is the conversation happening quietly across our society.

ESTRIN: There are lots of ideas being floated in coffee shops and embassies, but no clear plan to bring long-term peace to Gaza and Israel. And despite all this talk, a senior U.S. official told reporters that it would be Israel largely dictating the outcome. Israel's leaders are focused on the war, trying to eradicate Hamas rule in Gaza after the October 7 attacks. But they have not spelled out a clear strategy for what comes next.

Daniel Estrin, NPR News, Tel Aviv. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Daniel Estrin is NPR's international correspondent in Jerusalem.
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.