Palestinians should govern Gaza once Israel ends its war in the besieged enclave, the United States has said, pushing back against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's idea that Israel would be responsible for Gaza's "security" indefinitely.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday outlined in the most comprehensive comments on the issue to date on Washington's red lines and expectations for the besieged coastal territory.
"No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza," Blinken said at a press conference in Tokyo.
Blinken said there may be a need for "some transition period" at the end of the conflict, but that post-crisis governance in Gaza must include Palestinian voices.
"It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority."
On Monday, Netanyahu told ABC News that Israel will "for an indefinite period" have security responsibility of the enclave after the war. His comments appeared at odds with US officials who say Israel does not want to administer Gaza post-Hamas.
"I think Israel will, for an indefinite period, will have the overall security responsibility because we've seen what happens when we don't have that security responsibility," Netanyahu said.
Israeli officials have since tried to clarify they do not intend to occupy Gaza after the war, but they have yet to articulate how they might ensure security without maintaining a military presence. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005 and has since then imposed a brutal siege on the enclave.
'Not going to go to Gaza on an Israeli military tank'
The Palestinian Authority [PA], which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, says Gaza is an integral part of Palestine.
But top officials including Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas say a PA return to Gaza must be accompanied by a political solution that ends Israel's occupation of territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
"[We] are not going to go to Gaza on an Israeli military tank," PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told PBS this week. "We are going to go to Gaza as part of a solution that deals with the question of Palestine, that deals with occupation."
Since October 7, Israel has killed more than 10,500 Palestinians in a relentless bombardment of the Gaza — home to 2.3 million. About 40 percent of those killed are children, officials say.
Arab states, which provide the PA with financial aid, have advocated for an immediate ceasefire but have shown reluctance to discuss a post-war status for Gaza. They say the focus should remain on stopping hostilities.
But Blinken said the conversation about the future should take place now.
"Because identifying the longer-term objectives and a pathway to get there will help shape our approach to addressing immediate needs," he said.