top of page

The day after Hamas: An opportunity to Formulate a New Paradigm (Policy Intervention)

While the goal of the war was defined as the destruction of the military and governmental capabilities of Hamas, the US demands urgent answers regarding Israel's agenda the day after the fall of Hamas. The need to produce a quick answer to this question conflicts with the opportunity to formulate a new paradigm that is not bound by the current assumptions.

 

This document offers an agenda for the reality after the fall of Hamas (although there is still a long way to get there) in a way that will respond to a number of basic strategic considerations that we have identified and in a way that will leave Israel as much flexibility as possible to create and promote new long-term frameworks regarding Gaza and the conflict with the Palestinians.


INTRODUCTION


The paradigm of strengthening Hamas is dead. The Israeli governments under Netanyahu promoted a policy of differentiation between Gaza and the West Bank and worked to weaken the Palestinian Authority and strengthen Hamas, which they saw as evil in the minority as a pragmatic actor and not just a radical ideological one.

 

This policy stemmed from the fear that a strong authority would force the Israeli government to face international pressures to promote a political process. This conceptual framework collapsed on October 7th . The rule of Hamas in Gaza has proven to be the worst possible alternative, as a skilled, trained, armed, and sophisticated terrorist army, driven by a murderous ideology, and which is an important link in the ring of terror that the Iranians are building around Israel in the region.

 

Israel cannot avoid thinking about the day after. The more clarity Israel has regarding the goals of the war and a clearer picture the day after, the more effective it will be able to advance them now. Moreover, the US and the international community demand answers regarding the goals of the war, and their continued support depends on Israel's ability to produce such an image.

 

Israel flag war

The war constitutes a tectonic change, after which it is likely that a new regional and perhaps even global order will gradually take shape. The war is only at its beginning, and it could very likely turn into a regional campaign involving not only other countries in the region but also world powers. Israel's policy will have an impact on shaping the regional order.

 

Therefore, in the war also lies the potential to formulate a new conceptual framework that is not bound to the failed basic assumptions that brought us to the current reality.


STRATEGIC CONSIDERATION


The reality to which Israel must strive regarding the Gaza Strip in the post-Hamas era must provide an optimal response to three basic considerations:


  • Israel's security needs, which can be broken down into the following components: military demilitarization of the Gaza Strip; elimination of all armed militias, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad forces; Israeli monopoly on the exercise of military power in the region; Effective supervision of the entry and exit points from Gaza.

  • International legitimacy: military and non-civilian presence. It is necessary to maintain international legitimacy for Israel's actions in Gaza, which is also the basis of the political and security support that the State of Israel receives from the US. First and foremost, international legitimacy for Israel's actions will be achieved as long as Israel's presence in the Gaza Strip is a military and not a civilian presence, and as long as it is perceived as temporary.

Israel diagram

  • National resilience: it is imperative that the new reality r


  • estores the damaged trust between the state and its citizens, corresponds with an Israeli narrative that will gain broad internal public support, and challenges social cohesion as little as possible.


israel entered the campaign when it was on the brink of a constitutional crisis and a deep internal social rift. The war succeeded in obscuring the deep divisions for the most part and created social cohesion and national resilience that enabled Israel to beat Hamas.


However, these cohesion and resilience are very fragile, and social tensions are expected to emerge as Israel is forced to question the nature of the day after. There will not be a full consensus regarding the day after Gaza, but the commitment to an arrangement that will be acceptable to as wide an audience as possible in Israeli society is critical to Israel's national resilience.


THE STRUCTURAL TENSION


Between the three basic considerations we presented above, there is a structural tension. For example, to the extent that the Israeli presence will have the characteristics of permanent residence and will have civilian characteristics (to the point of returning Gush Katif settlements), the international and American legitimacy will erode, and eventually this will also harm the national resilience. To the same extent, it will not be possible to present a broad political agenda that gains broad international legitimacy as part of the preparation for the day after without risking undermining social cohesion.

 

The urgent need for the US and the international community to receive answers now about the day after conflicts with the need to formulate a new conceptual-operative framework. The process of creating new conceptual frameworks and turning them into a sustainable political agenda is a long process. 

 

The conclusion is that Israel needs to both 1) produce an immediate response to the way it sees Gaza in the short term soon in the aftermath of the implosion of the Hamas regime; and 2) launch a thorough effort to lay out a long-term vision for Gaza and the Israeli Palestinian conflict.  


PREPARING THE GROUND FOR THE PA


At the present time, strengthening the Palestinian Authority in order to transfer control of Gaza to it is the least bad option among several more problematic alternatives:


  •  The existence of the PA is an important political and security need despite its shortcomings. Large parts of the Israeli society see the Oslo Process as a historical mistake, and some also see the PA, born of their power, as a hostile entity born of sin. However, the existence of the PA serves an important security and political role, and Israel has the tools to contain the potential threats posed and also take advantage of many opportunities.

  • Use of the PA’s mechanisms in Gaza, which continued to serve the population even after Hamas took over, will prevent the need to re-establish the Civil Administration, namely taking responsibility for two million Palestinians.  


THE CHALLENGES


The PA may not be kin to be framed as a “complicit with the occupation”, and it is not popular in the Palestinian street. 

Again, the process of preparing the ground for the PA to regain control over the Palestinian population  in Gaza is a complex one, and should include the following points:


  • In order to serve the population, Israel must try to minimize the damage to the PA’s mechanisms and attributes of sovereignty in Gaza, as opposed to the distinct organizational infrastructure of Hamas there.

  • The Israeli policy must be changed, and action should be taken to strengthen the PA. The strengthening of the PA should include not only gestures but also economic strengthening and the transfer of control over civilian powers. Upgrading the position of the PA in the international arena should only be subject to international guarantees that it will not use it to confront Israel.

  • Waiting for the day after Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen): PA President Mahmoud Abbas is at the end of his political (and biological) career, and what will happen on the day he ends his duties is unknown. Israel cannot risk transferring control to the PA before it is clear that the PA succeeds in the internal transfer of power and can serve as Israel's address. It is possible that the situation in Gaza is an opportunity to speed up a generational change in the PA through pressure from regional parties.


THE DAY AFTER THE DAY AFTER: AN OPPORTUNITY TO FORMULATE A NEW PARADIGM


Deep crises often generate new opportunities, change basic principles and dynamics, and enable the creation of a reality that previously seemed imaginary and unrealistic. Alternatives that may seem speculative at this stage could evolve into sustainable frameworks in the face of the crisis. However, to increase the chances of producing a sustainable alternative, we recommend adhering to certain anchors: 


  • Israel will not be able to promote a new agenda alone. Even in the new regional and global order that will emerge, Israel will require regional and international partners to advance an agenda. Therefore, calls for the re-establishment of settlements in Gaza are politically unrealistic.

  • The new agenda should recognize the PA as the primary Palestinian interlocutor, at the expense of the PLOIsrael should consider officially declaring that its exclusive point of contact for all matters related to Israeli-Palestinian relations is the PA. There are various reasons for this, including the concern that Hamas, even after suffering a setback, may attempt to takeover the PLO. In the current reality, it is appropriate to engage with the PA to narrow the political agenda to issues that directly and exclusively concern the residents of the authority. Treating the PA as a Palestinian partner aligns with the strategic considerations presented above and will significantly facilitate the promotion of this agenda with the international community and the countries of the Abraham Accords.

  • Strengthening the PA also aims to marginalize the impact of Hamas on the Palestinian system. Hamas is an ideology that is expected to persist in Palestinian society even after its rule is eliminated. Israel’s goal is to deprive this ideology of the capabilities and platform that enabled it to advance its violent agenda. To ensure that this ideology does not take root and rebuild its capabilities, a long-term reality must be established in which there is an opportunity to promote alternative and sustainable ideas. The likelihood of success in this regard is greater when these ideas are perceived as genuinely Palestinian.

  • Leveraging the significant potential of the Abraham Accords: The countries of the Abraham Accords and the moderate axis led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt may have an interest in filling the vacuum left by the demise of Hamas to prevent Iran from gaining influence. Their support is crucial for creating an ideological alternative to Hamas rule, and they can contribute in various dimensions.

留言


bottom of page