Israel's failure to prepare for post-war Gaza is 'huge strategic mistake'

Leading opposition politician Shelly Tal Meron tells The National that the Israeli public has lost faith in the Netanyahu government

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ruled out any role for the Palestinian Authority in running Gaza after the war ends. AP
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The Israeli government's failure to plan for the “day after” the Gaza war ends is a “huge strategic mistake”, a leading opposition politician has told The National.

Knesset member Shelly Tal Meron also said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government's conduct of the conflict had led to it “losing the faith of the public and Israel”.

She argued that while it would take time for Israeli society to heal from the Hamas-led October 7 attacks, the country would ultimately need to “re-establish the relationships” with Palestinians to stop the generational conflict.

Day after scenarios

Ms Tal Meron said Israel must address what it plans to do with Gaza, where more than 35,700 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli fire if it achieves its war objective of eliminating Hamas in the enclave.

“Israel must discuss the ‘day after’ right now, if not yesterday,” Ms Tal Meron insisted. “Not discussing the ‘day after’ is a huge strategic mistake for the state of Israel.”

She said she did not want her two daughters, aged 17 and 14, to be caught in the “endless cycles” of violence in “10 years, 20 years and 30 years”.

Gaza, where more than two million Palestinians live, would have to be demilitarised because “we need to have our borders safe again”, she said, suggesting that some of the civil governance could be done by the estimated 25,000 people who worked for the Palestinian Authority in the enclave.

Mr Netanyahu has rejected any role for the Palestinian Authority in governing Gaza.

Arab countries have called for a UN-led peacekeeping force to be deployed, but nothing has been decided at the international level yet.

The October 7 attacks, in which Hamas killed about 1,200 people in southern Israel, had made Israelis more hardline, said Ms Tal Meron, who is seen as a rising figure in the centre-left Yesh Atid, the main opposition party led by former prime minister Yair Lapid.

“In war, the public goes to the right wing because they're afraid for their lives and have lost trust in humanity,” she said.

Trust also needed to be rebuilt with Palestinians after the traumas suffered by both sides in the war.

“We need to re-establish the relationships as we have lost faith,” she said. “So, it will take time for Israeli society to heal but we have to start the process.”

'What is the strategy?'

Ms Tal Meron, speaking to The National at her Knesset office, made trenchant condemnation of Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, in which he relies on the support of far-right parties.

“If he wants to stay in power, the Prime Minister has to listen to the extremists within this government, and that's a problem because they are extreme and they do not represent the majority of the state of Israel.”

The “failing” government should be immediately replaced with elections if necessary or by another coalition formed within the Knesset, led by Yesh Atid, the second biggest party, she said.

“It's been seven months and where is this war going? What is the strategy? Where are you taking the state of Israel? I think that we can run this war in a better way and a new government can do that,” Ms Tal Meron said.

She said the release of the remaining 128 hostages seized by Hamas on October 7 should also be the top priority, but suggested that politics was “involved in the decision-making process” for a deal, “and that concerns me a lot”.

Violence against women

Ms Tal Meron was speaking shortly after chairing a multinational conference on sexual violence as a weapon of war in which crimes against women in the current conflict were highlighted.

“The main goal is to bring awareness around the world because people are not talking about this enough,” she said.

“This is not an Israeli problem, this is a problem for the entire world. This could be at the doorstep of every country in the world.”

Updated: May 23, 2024, 11:44 AM