Washington is already mulling the “day after” as Israel has vowed to eradicated Hamas from the Gaza Strip. Already over a million Gazans have been displaced within the Strip, according to UN figures, as Israeli tanks push deeper into Gaza City in the north.
Both Bloomberg and Politico have this week reported that US officials are in discussions to possibly establish a multinational peacekeeping force that would be sent to the Gaza Strip, given that a massive humanitarian catastrophe is fast unfolding. The plan is being mulled in preparation for after Hamas is finished, and based on fears of post-war total societal breakdown which could in turn breed further home-grown terrorist violence.
Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland disclosed the “very preliminary and fragile” closed-door discussions to the publications.
Van Hollen has been cited as saying he believes it’s “important to have some kind of multinational force in Gaza as a transition to whatever comes next.” However, the White House has at the same time cautioned that putting US troops on the ground in Gaza is “not something that’s being considered or is under discussion” – according to NSC spokesperson Adrienne Watson.
The Pentagon has admitted though that special forces are in Israel advising Israeli defense and intelligence officials, as the two countries consult on how to best locate and rescue the some 240 hostages held by Hamas.
Sen. Blumenthal has been quoted as saying, “There certainly has been discussion with the Saudi[s] about their being part of some international peacekeeping force if only to provide resources, and … supporting Palestinian leadership and a separate stat.”
“Reconstruction of Gaza will require a vast amount of resources, which the Saudis potentially could help provide,” Blumenthal said further, and added that “an international force could be mustered without U.S. troops.”
Washington has lately backed off rhetoric that might be seen as supporting a controversial Israeli ‘option’ to send Gazans into tent cities in the Sinai – widely denounced by international organization as tantamount to ethnically cleansing the historic and densely populated Strip.
Blinken has a brilliant theory that the US providing a pittance of ‘humanitarian aid’ to Gaza will help win over the ‘hearts and minds’ of people there, even as the US also provides the bombs being dropped on them pic.twitter.com/XaVlYVWaLF
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) November 1, 2023
There are reports that Israel has offered Egypt major incentives for this to happen:
Israel is proposing writing off a significant chunk of Egypt’s international debts through the World Bank to entice the cash-strapped Abdel Fattah el-Sisi government to open its doors for displaced Palestinians, according to the Israeli Ynet website.
Egypt is currently mired in a debt crisis, ranking second only to Ukraine among countries most likely to default in debt payments.
But it’s entirely another open question whether Israel would actually have this much sway with the World Bank to write off Egypt’s extensive international debts.
Israel and the US are mulling various ‘options’ for handing the civilian side of the crisis in large part due to the intensifying international pressure over the immensely high death toll, which has surpassed 9,000 mostly civilians. Countries especially across the Global South have been denouncing the humanitarian catastrophe, with some actually breaking off diplomatic ties and removing ambassadors – Bahrain is the latest to do so.