UN protectorate in Gaza not the solution, says Antonio Guterres

Questions growing over who will govern the enclave once the Israel-Gaza fighting stops

Smoke rises after an explosion following an air strike on the northern part of the Gaza Strip, as seen from Sderot, southern Israel. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Live updates: Follow the latest news on Israel-Gaza

The UN Secretary General on Monday said a UN protectorate was not the solution for the administration of Gaza once the war between Israel and Hamas is over.

“It is important to be able to transform this tragedy into an opportunity," Antonio Guterres said.

"And for that to be possible, it is essential that after the war, we move in a determined and irreversible way to a two-state solution,” the UN chief told reporters in New York, underscoring the importance of bolstering the Palestinian Authority to assume responsibility in Gaza.

“We will need a multi-stakeholder approach in which different countries, different entities, will co-operate.

“For Israel, of course, the US is the main guarantor of its security. For Palestinians, the neighbouring and Arab countries of the region are essential.”

Amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza are growing questions over the future administration of the enclave once the fighting comes to an end.

According to Politico, Germany has put forth a proposal suggesting the UN assumes control over the Gaza Strip when the war ends.

Germany's two-page proposal, dated October 21, outlines the idea of a carefully co-ordinated transition towards Palestinian self-governance through elections, with international support ensuring security during this process.

Richard Gowan, UN director at the international Crisis Group, told The National officials were “nervous” about the idea of the world body governing Gaza in the way that it previously governed Kosovo and East Timor.

“There are obvious security risks,” he said. "The UN would look like Israel's proxies. There would be a high risk of protests and terrorist attacks targeting the UN.

“The risks are too high.”

Mr Gowan said there is a great deal of discussion about the need for a transitional period in Gaza – but nobody wants to take responsibility for such a transition.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi rejected the idea of sending Arab peacekeepers to Gaza after the war ends to prevent the resurgence of Hamas and provide overall security.

“There will be no Arab troops going to Gaza, none,” he said.

A plan to station Arab troops in Gaza after the war sends Israel the message that it has free rein to destroy the enclave, Mr Safadi said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted Israel indefinitely maintains security control over Gaza.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken firmly rejected any notion of the Gaza Strip being reoccupied by Israel during a meeting of foreign ministers in Tokyo on November 8.

Mr Blinken outlined his comprehensive vision for the future of Gaza, emphasising the importance of a Palestinian-led government and the unification of Gaza with the currently occupied West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.

“These must include the Palestinian people’s voices and aspirations at the centre of post-crisis governance in Gaza,” he said.

Omri Brinner, an Israel and Middle East analyst at the International Team for the Study of Security Verona, told The National the Israelis will not allow Palestinian Authority rule in case of a subsequent loss to Hamas, as happened in 2006-07.

"Now is not the time for wishful thinking and disconnected promises," said Mr Brinner.

Updated: November 21, 2023, 5:52 AM