US and Israeli officials are reportedly considering the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in the Gaza Strip if Hamas is successfully removed from power. These discussions come as Israel escalates its ground assault on the Palestinian enclave. According to Bloomberg, the two countries have been exploring various options for the future of Gaza, including the possibility of a peacekeeping force that would involve troops from the US, UK, Germany, France, and representation from Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates.
While the conversations are still in their early stages, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has hinted at American involvement in the planning. In recent comments to lawmakers, Blinken stressed the need to find a solution that doesn’t revert to the previous status quo with Hamas in control or with Israel governing Gaza. He stated, “Between those shoals are a variety of possible permutations that we’re looking at very closely now, as are other countries.”
Although Blinken did not provide details on these possibilities, Bloomberg reports that they include the idea of establishing a peacekeeping force similar to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) that monitors areas of the Sinai Peninsula under the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Israeli officials reportedly see this idea as “worthy of consideration.”
Another proposal under consideration is granting temporary governance of Gaza to the United Nations. However, Israeli officials are said to view this plan as impractical. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in announcing Israel’s ongoing ground operation in Gaza, emphasized the goal of “destroying Hamas” and creating a new security regime. He stressed that Israel should not be responsible for day-to-day life in Gaza and suggested the need to hand off governance to a third party.
US President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is cautious about placing American troops in harm’s way and has not made a final decision on the matter. The White House has discussed the need to establish a sovereign Palestinian state after the current conflict, but the discussions among US officials have given little attention to how to achieve this goal.
The recent outbreak of violence in Gaza was triggered by a deadly Hamas terrorist attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have responded with heavy airstrikes, causing over 8,000 deaths in the weeks since. Israel has also launched a major ground attack, which officials say could extend for several months.
It is important to note that the discussions regarding the deployment of an international peacekeeping force in Gaza are still in the early stages. The final decision and implementation of such a force will require careful consideration and coordination among the involved parties.