Tariq Al-Homayed
Saudi journalist and writer, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper

Who Will Govern Gaza

We are seeing more debate about the future of Gaza and who will govern it. The Biden administration has been preparing for that since the war on Gaza began, and Washington seems close to having developed a clear picture of what it wants to see. It will certainly be a complex process. The Israelis claim that they do not intend to reoccupy Gaza, but they are demanding that a buffer zone be established along its border with Israel and that security arrangements limit Gaza’s autonomy, which implies redrawing the map.

I had warned about this prospect in an article titled "Warning of Changing Maps," which was on October 11. Instead of becoming a subject of discussion, it gave rise to a campaign of accusations of treachery. Now, we are facing this reality. The point is not what I said but how some have read the crisis. Indeed, Israel rejects the idea of the Palestinian Authority returning to Gaza. According to The Washington Post, the Arabs have refused to send Arab troops to the Strip, while the US wants to see the Palestinian Authority return and govern the Strip after its leadership is shuffled. It is clear that Washington is thinking of a figure like Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister. However, that would not be unless the PA, specifically President Abbas, is convinced of the need for change. That is the crux of the issue.

Anyone familiar with the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict can identify a hallmark of managing this conflict: the Palestinians and the Arabs are always late to present solutions, anticipating the worst, or preparing to impose the best, under the notion that crises create opportunities. We are seeing this play out now with the war in Gaza.

This conflict should not be managed sentimentally, but through reason and based on ethics. Reason means taking advantage of opportunities and avoiding repetitions of failed strategies. Ethics dictate preserving Palestinian lives and not exposing them to misfortune every year or two, as happens with the wars in Gaza.

Thus, President Abbas and the moderate Arabs must be aware that others are ready to jump in and govern or "administer" Gaza. Türkiye and its subordinates in the region have hinted at this, and they have the media institutions needed to push their narrative and the money to act on their plans.

Thus, President Abbas - and the moderate Arabs should encourage him to do so - must reassess the situation in the Palestinian Authority and its leadership. Abbas must recognize the need for reshaping it in a way that responds to the shifts on the ground, which are strategic.

President Abbas and the Arabs should be wary of Israel refusing to allow the Palestinian Authority to return to Gaza if Hamas is removed or annihilated. Netanyahu may be planning to grant other parties the right to manage Gaza to prolong Palestinian divisions and weaken the Palestinian Authority further.

Despite the brutality and viciousness of this war, it will end. It is crucial that we prepare for the day after and how we will administer peoples’ lives there after the last rocket is fired. We must heal the wounds of Gazans quickly and begin reconstruction as soon as possible, which will be no easy task.

Accordingly, President Abbas and the moderate Arab states have no time to waste. They must take the initiative and reject any changes to the map, persuading the Authority to change and helping it do so, and demanding that it govern Gaza. That is the natural solution and it safeguards the "two-state solution."