US maintains opposition to Israeli re-occupation of Gaza

The White House rejected Wednesday the idea that Israel will re-occupy the besieged Gaza Strip after its ongoing war concludes, continuing an ongoing dispute with Tel Aviv over the coastal enclave's future. 

The Biden administration does "not support a reoccupation of Gaza," National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters at the White House, just one day after Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said his military must maintain indefinite security control over Gaza.

"We don't support any shrinking in the territorial boundaries of Gaza. We don't support any permanent displacement of the people of Gaza outside of Gaza," Kirby said.

"And as we have said many, many times, we believe that there needs to be some critical questions as to all of us, including our regional partners, about what governance in Gaza looks like. I don't have the answers to all those questions, but what we do know is it's got to be responsive to the aspirations of the Palestinian people, has to be representative of them," he added.

Netanyahu said Tuesday that the Israeli military will retain control of Gaza's security after the war, rejecting the possibility of handing responsibility over to an international force. He further maintained Gaza "must be demilitarized" after the war ends.

"In order for Gaza to be demilitarized, there is only one force that can see to this demilitarization – and that force is the IDF," he said after a cabinet meeting, referring to the Israeli military.

"We have seen what has happened in other places where they brought in international forces for the goal of demilitarization. I am not prepared to close my eyes and accept any other arrangement," he added.

US President Joe Biden said last month that he "made clear" to the Israeli government his opposition to any re-occupation of Gaza, saying "It’s a big mistake for them to think they’re going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza."

The US has been vague as to what it believes the future of Gaza will look like after Israel's campaign, but has maintained that the Palestinian Authority, which currently administers parts of the occupied West Bank, should return to Gaza.

Kirby declined to respond to a reporter's question on whether Biden would pursue proposals to condition aid to Israel if Tel Aviv carries out any re-occupation of Gaza, calling it a “hypothetical.”

“I just won't speculate about that. We've made very clear opposition on any potential reoccupation of Gaza,” he added.

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