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Pentagon In Early Talks to Finance Gaza Peacekeeping Force: Report

Israeli military vehicles and tanks in Gaza. AFP
Israeli military vehicles and tanks in Gaza. AFP

By: Micaela Burrow, Daily Caller News Foundation

The Pentagon is in early talks to fund a peacekeeping force in war-ravaged Gaza after conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist group ends, Politico reported, citing two Defense Department officials and two other U.S. officials.

Options on the table do not involve placing U.S. troops on the ground in a post-war Gaza but would instead go toward funding and fulfilling other needs of a multinational or Palestinian peacekeeping force, the officials said on condition of anonymity to detail ongoing diplomatic and military negotiations, according to Politico. Talks about what a post-war stabilization might look like in Gaza are far from finalized, as the participants hope to see Israel commit to a two-state solution before fleshing out the plans fully, the officials said.

“We are working with partners on various scenarios for interim governance and security structures in Gaza once the crisis recedes,” a senior administration official told Politico. “We’ve had a number of conversations with both the Israelis and our partners about key elements for the day after in Gaza when the time is right.”

Under one of the proposals, the Department of Defense (DOD) would provide aid for reconstruction, infrastructure and humanitarian assistance, the DOD officials told Politico.

Other countries would also provide funding and assistance, although the Pentagon would likely have to draw resources from other elements of the department to support the effort, the two U.S. officials said.

One dilemma is the viability of training a Palestinian-led team to carry out peacekeeping operations in time, Politico reported. Another factor frustrating the discussions stems from Israel’s hesitance to entertain the prospect of such a force until Hamas is defeated and the remaining hostages are secured, while some forces in the Israeli government have called for Israel to occupy Gaza after the war.

“Israel is the long pole in the tent,” one of the DOD officials told Politico, adding that Israel “has their hands full with other things.”

“It would be one thing if the administration and the Israeli government were aligned on the way ahead, but that is just not the case,” the official said.

Parties to the negotiations include the White House, Pentagon, State Department and foreign counterparts, the officials said, according to Politico.

The Pentagon began exploring plans for a peacekeeping force around the New Year, when Israel began signaling diminished ground operations in Gaza, a DOD official said, according to Politico.

Planners have not determined which countries will participate in the peacekeeping effort because the discussions are not final and it remains unclear how or when the war will end, one of the DOD officials said.

Israel is planning an offensive into the Hamas stronghold in Rafah, in the densely populated southernmost region of Gaza, in spite of the Biden administration’s pressures against the operation tied to the anticipated toll on civilians.

“Even though we have had conversations on the margins with regional partners about what they’d be willing to do, contribute, accept, that has not received serious consideration from our Israeli partner,” the official said.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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