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Israel shouldn't keep a military presence in Gaza after the war, analyst says

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

We've been speaking to Palestinians about their vision for a post-war Gaza. Today, we hear from Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, an American writer and analyst originally from Gaza. He spends his days grieving the more than 30 members of his family who've been killed. The homes he grew up in are destroyed. He blames Israel for that destruction and those killings, calling it criminal. But he also blames Hamas for 17 years of authoritarian rule, for what it did on October 7 and for what that brought on Gaza. Alkhatib says Palestinians in Gaza are ready for a fundamental change, and because he's somewhere safe, he has time to think about what that could look like.

AHMED FOUAD ALKHATIB: We need to reverse decades of incitement - and I'm speaking on the Palestinian side - by bad faith actors like Hamas and their regional backers. It needs to be an open part of Palestine because the real resistance should only happen in the West Bank through multifaceted nonviolent means against settler violence and against military occupation.

FADEL: You're referring to Israeli settlers who have been annexing land in the West Bank that is seen as part of a future Palestinian state, and that's against international law, as the U.N. states.

ALKHATIB: Precisely that. Right now, the Israeli side repeats that it has no viable partners for peace and that if the settlements were to be vacated in the West Bank, they would get a repeat of what happened in Gaza. And unfortunately, bad faith actors like Hamas give credence to this narrative.

FADEL: Describe your day-after plan. I mean, when you think about the day after, what does that look like?

ALKHATIB: There needs to be a way in which some kind of a security force made up of locals, Palestinian Authority, folks from the West Bank, Arab and international monitors can enter the Gaza Strip to help stabilize, and that will require recycling some elements of Gaza's administrative bodies that have the local knowhow.

FADEL: And is that possible in this moment when it feels like everyone's dug in? And are there examples where this has worked?

ALKHATIB: There are many examples where organizations that were engaged in political violence were politically and administratively rehabilitated - if you look at the IRA in Northern Ireland, if you look at the FARC rebels in Colombia. I'm speaking specifically about the tens of thousands of employees and administrative staff that worked...

FADEL: Yeah.

ALKHATIB: ...Under Hamas. Any attempt to deny them employment would absolutely be disastrous because you're losing talent. They're going to have no jobs and no ways of providing for their families.

FADEL: Do you see an Israeli role in the security control of Gaza?

ALKHATIB: Israel will play a security role in terms of securing the Gaza-Israel borders to ensure that an October 7 attack can never happen again, but much of that can happen on the Israeli side of the border. It should not maintain military presence inside the strip. Anyone or any party or any entity that actually engages Israel is seen as illegitimate by the Palestinian population in Gaza.

FADEL: When you think of your ideal future, as a Palestinian from Gaza, what is it?

ALKHATIB: A Gaza that is a beacon for stability. A Gaza that is demilitarized and has good relations with its neighbors in Egypt and, most importantly, in Israel. A Gaza that makes the case for why the West Bank should be free of Israeli settlements and occupation. Palestinians are absolutely worthy of having self-determination and a statehood, and that will take time.

FADEL: Yeah.

ALKHATIB: But I absolutely believe that out of the ashes of what we're seeing in Gaza, a different future can and should and will emerge.

FADEL: Ahmed Alkhatib, thank you so much for your time and your insights.

ALKHATIB: Thanks for talking to me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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