Wide Angle

US pushes for Arab peacekeeping force in Gaza, with Morocco participation

The US is reportedly discussing the possibility of establishing a an Arab-led peacekeeping force in Gaza, that includes Morocco.

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The Biden administration is envisioning Arab countries participating in a peacekeeping force deployed in Gaza once the war is over, revealed the Financial Times on Tuesday. Their goal is to fill «a vacuum in the strip until a credible Palestinian security apparatus is established», it said.

According to the newspaper, the United States is discussing these plans with Arab countries. Western and Arab officials say Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Morocco are considering the initiative, but President Joe Biden remains firm on not deploying American troops to Gaza.

«Arab States have said it should be US-led so the US is trying to work out how it can lead it without having boots on the ground», a Western official told the Financial Times. «Three Arab states have had initial discussions, including Egypt, the UAE and Morocco, but they would want the US to recognise a Palestinian state first».

Uncertainty and disagreements

Other Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, have rejected the idea altogether, fearing being seen as complicit with Israel and potential rebellion in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

The situation is further complicated by the unclear intentions of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The US and its allies are frustrated by the lack of clarity regarding the duration of Israeli troop presence, who his government will accept as in charge of Gaza, and the overall timeline of the Israeli offensive.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed these frustrations on CBS's Face the Nation, stating that Washington has been working for weeks with Arab states and allies «been working for many, many weeks on developing credible plans for security, for governance, for rebuilding». «We haven’t seen that come from Israel», he added.

Looking forward with challenges

A State Department spokesman confirmed discussions with regional partners about post-conflict Gaza, highlighting a shared «willingness to play a constructive role when conditions allow». They emphasized the need for continued international support for governance, security, and humanitarian efforts.

Netanyahu, on the other hand, insists on maintaining overall Israeli security control over the Strip. He vehemently rejects any role for the Western- and Arab-backed Palestinian Authority or moves toward Palestinian statehood.

While some Israeli officials, like Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, support an international presence post-war, the lack of a clear Israeli stance adds to the overall uncertainty.

«Israel is refusing to talk to anybody about it, it’s in denial. And everyone else is talking past each other», the western official told the newspaper. «The Arab states say the west has to recognise a Palestinian state, but very few of the major western states are really close to doing this».

Arab disagreements and the UN's role

An Arab official confirmed the US proposal of a peacekeeping force but also revealed disagreements among Arab states regarding post-conflict plans. However, the biggest concern remains the complete lack of clarity about the future situation.

The Western official mentioned the UN's recommendation to maintain the existing Gaza police force for stability, possibly with Palestinian Authority security force involvement. However, capacity limitations and the need for Hamas approval pose significant challenges.

The UAE's Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan emphasized their support for a Palestinian government representing the people's aspirations and rejected any plan that legitimizes the Israeli presence in Gaza.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak has proposed before to hand over control to an Arab peacekeeping force, including Morocco and other Arab countries with diplomatic ties to Israel.

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