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Israel informs Arab states it wants buffer zone in post-war Gaza, says source

Published : Saturday, 2 December, 2023 at 5:37 PM  Count : 487

Military vehicles manoeuvre next to a fence, as seen from the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, November 5, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

Military vehicles manoeuvre next to a fence, as seen from the Israeli side of the border with Gaza, November 5, 2023. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

Israel has informed several Arab states that it wants to carve out a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of Gaza's border to prevent future attacks as part of proposals for the enclave after war ends, Egyptian and regional sources said. reports Reuters.

According to three regional sources, Israel related its plans to its neighbours Egypt and Jordan, along with the United Arab Emirates, which normalized ties with Israel in 2020.
They also said that Saudi Arabia, which does not have ties with Israel and which halted a U.S.-mediated normalization process after the Gaza war flared on Oct. 7, had been informed. The sources did not say how the information reached Riyadh, which officially does not have direct communication channels with Israel. Non-Arab Turkey was also told, the sources said.

The initiative does not indicate an imminent end to Israel's offensive – which resumed on Friday after a seven-day truce – but it shows Israel is reaching out beyond established Arab mediators, such as Egypt or Qatar, as it seeks to shape a post-war Gaza.

No Arab states have shown any willingness to police or administer Gaza in future and most have roundly condemned Israel's offensive that has killed more than 15,000 people and levelled swathes of Gaza's urban areas. Hamas killed 1,200 people in its Oct. 7 raid and took more than 200 hostages.

"Israel wants this buffer zone between Gaza and Israel from the north to the south to prevent any Hamas or other militants from infiltrating or attacking Israel," said a senior regional security official, one of the three regional sources who asked not to be identified by nationality.

The Egyptian, Saudi, Qatari and Turkish governments did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Jordanian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

A UAE official did not respond directly when asked if Abu Dhabi had been told about the buffer zone, but said: "The UAE will support any future post-war arrangements agreed upon by all the concerned parties" to achieve stability and a Palestinian state.

Asked about plans for a buffer zone, Ophir Falk, foreign policy adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Reuters: “The plan is more detailed than that. It’s based on a three-tier process for the day after Hamas.”

Outlining the Israeli government's position, he said the three tiers involved destroying Hamas, demilitarizing Gaza and de-radicalising the enclave.

"A buffer zone may be part of the demilitarization process," he said. He declined to offer details when asked whether those plans had been raised with international partners, including Arab states.

Arab states have dismissed as impossible Israel's goal of wiping out Hamas, saying it was more than simply a militant force that could be defeated.


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