Different visions for a postwar Gaza held by Israel and Washington were laid bare on Sunday as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US media an “overriding and overreaching Israeli military envelope” of the Gaza Strip would be necessary in the future.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan appeared to shut down that possibility, something US leaders have done repeatedly in recent days.
“We've been very clear about our position, and you referenced it, which is that there can be no reoccupation of Gaza,” Mr Sullivan said on CNN.
“There can be no forcible displacement of the Palestinian people from Gaza and there can be no reduction in the territory of Gaza.”
Israeli and US differences appear to stretch beyond just the idea of a buffer zone, to the question of who would control the densely populated territory in the future.
The embattled Israeli leader once again refused to address calls for him to take responsibility for the security failures that allowed Hamas to carry out its attacks in southern Israel on October 7.
He also shut down the idea that a future Gaza could be run by the Palestinian Authority.
“You have to have some kind of authority, civilian Palestinian Authority that is willing to fight the terrorists and, importantly, must educate their children for a future of peace, co-operation, prosperity, co-operation with Israel, not the annihilation of Israel, and so far, that hasn't happened,” Mr Netanyahu said on CNN.
“The burden of proof is on the PA and they failed every single count.”
Mr Sullivan suggested that the PA was the best organisation to control both Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
“We've also said that we think that there should be unified political leadership across both the West Bank and Gaza,” Mr Sullivan said.
“The Palestinian Authority is the political leadership in the West Bank. Over the long term, of course, the determination of how the West Bank and Gaza are governed will be up to the Palestinian people.”