What Happens Once Hamas Is Gone?

There are no good options in Gaza for the “day after.”

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: Eight weeks into the Israel-Hamas war, it remains an open question of what the “day after” will look like in Gaza if Hamas is removed from power.

Bibi’s stance: Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel will retain security control of Gaza “indefinitely” after the war, and that the IDF will “demilitarize” the strip.

  • The catch: Remaining in Gaza “indefinitely” puts a huge burden on the IDF. Also, Netanyahu may be ousted from power in the not-so-distant future, and his plans could be changed by the next prime minister.

America’s stance: The U.S. has publicly opposed an Israeli re-occupation of Gaza. Instead, President Joe Biden wants to use this as an opportunity to pursue a “two-state solution,” which includes the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

  • The problem: Polls show there is no appetite for a two-state solution among most Israelis nor among most Palestinians. More importantly, many Israelis saw October 7 as evidence of what happens when Israel precipitously withdraws from territory: More war, not peace.

Other ideas: Regional experts suggest an international coalition of Arab countries, possibly alongside the UN, can take control of Gaza. Others have also said despite its weakness, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (which currently controls the Palestinian territories in the West Bank) should be put in power.

Uncertainty: There are no “good” options for what will happen if Israel eliminates Hamas and removes it from power. When it comes to Middle East policy, the question is often not which option is best but rather which is the least bad.

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