Likud minister hints at possible rebuilding of Jewish towns in Gaza

Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli told Ynet that “there is logic” to resettling Jews there “in certain places.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli told Ynet Sunday that “there is logic” to resettling some Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip after Hamas has been completely defeated.

“There are certain parts where there is logic” in rebuilding Israeli settlements in the coastal enclave, said the Likud minister without going into details, when speaking of possible scenarios for “the day after” the IDF wins the war against the terrorist organization that slaughtered 1,200 people on October 7 when its fighters invaded over 20 Gaza envelope communities in a surprise attack.

In saying this, Chikli was at least in part taking the view of many in the national-religious parties who are part of the current coalition, who believe that it will only be possible to stop terrorism emanating from Gaza in the future if there is a large civilian Jewish population there, with the constant, accompanying presence of the IDF.

The idea is not necessarily popular in his party. Although a few backbenchers agree, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said outright last month that the idea is “unrealistic,” and told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that “We can conquer, we can annex, but at what price?”

Read  Sen. Cotton calls Schumer's demand for new elections in Israel 'inappropriate and offensive'

Chikli completely backed the prime minister in his oft-repeated statements of late that the idea of the Palestinian Authority (PA) taking charge in Gaza after Hamas is crushed is a complete non-starter.

“The option of the Palestinian Authority, which educates for terrorism, for the murder of Jews, doesn’t exist,” he said. “We didn’t pay with the blood of our best sons so that they get the control.”

The minister has articulated this view for weeks. Late last month, he also pointed out the PA’s inability to rule even if it is given the chance.

“It is a complete fiction” that the PA has control over its territory in Judea and Samaria, he said. “Ideologically, Hamas is dominant.” He pointed at a Bir Zeit University survey, “which shows that 83% of [Arab] Judea and Samaria residents take the side not only of Hamas, but support the massacre of October 7. We have to understand what kind of population we are dealing with!”

Instead, he offered during his Ynet interview the idea of splitting control of the Strip between several countries.

“For example, Rafiah can be under Egyptian control, and Khan Younis under the Emiratis – we have to think outside the box,” he said.

Read  'Grotesque': Schumer calls for Netanyahu's ouster, demands Israel back Palestinian state

U.S. President Joe Biden has stated numerous times that he sees a “revitalized Palestinian Authority” as the ultimate governor of Gaza as part of the two-state solution that he believes in but most Israelis do not. He has acknowledged that as it exists today, the PA is not yet capable of stabilizing Gaza, that it first needs to be revamped and cleaned of its current corruption.

Chikli became famous for breaking off from the Yamina party after its leader, Naftali Bennett, formed a short-lived coalition from mid-June 2021 to June 2022 with centrists, leftists and an Arab party, saying that Bennett had broken with the right-wing platform he had promised to his voters, and he was going to remain faithful to it.