U.S. officials said Sunday that the political future of the Gaza Strip, governed by the militant group Hamas, is “left to be defined” amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was asked by co-anchor Jonathan Karl about the next phases of the conflict if Israel does conduct a ground attack in Gaza.
“Well, it’s got — it has to transition to something else, Jon. And I think — you know, Hamas is a terrorist organization. And this is not the Palestinian people. Hamas, at the end of the day, Israel wants Hamas to be gone from Gaza,” Austin replied.
“What does it transition to? Left to be defined, but I think that’s an issue for the region and for the world to work together on.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also asked about Gaza’s political future during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press,” in which he said that Israel doesn’t want to govern Gaza once the war is over and that Israel can’t go back to the “status quo” of allowing Gaza to control the area.
“I think we know two things. We can’t go back to the status quo. They can’t go back to the status quo with Hamas being in a position in terms of its governance of Gaza to repeat what it did,” Blinken told moderator Kristen Welker, adding that Israel “can’t be in a position where they’re constantly at the threat of the most horrific terrorist attacks coming from Gaza.”
“So, something needs to be found that ensures that Hamas can’t do this again. But that also doesn’t revert to Israeli governance of Gaza, which they do not want and do not intend to do,” Blinken added.
“There’re different — there’re different ideas out there about what could follow, but all of that I think needs to be worked, and it’s something that needs to be worked even as Israel is dealing with the current threat.”
These latest remarks come as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said his country doesn’t have long-term plans to control Gaza following an expected ground invasion of the territory.
Gallant addressed the long-term plans for the territory with Israeli lawmakers Friday, outlining a three-phase conflict that consists of military airstrikes and ground maneuvers.
It’s been two weeks since Hamas launched an attack on Israel, which left 1,400 people dead.
In response, Israel launched attacks on Gaza, which have killed at least 4,385 people and wounded 13,561 others, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
President Biden announced last week that he sent an urgent budget request to Congress for additional aid to Ukraine and Israel, which would amount to $100 billion.
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