Politico: The US Department of Defense is holding preliminary talks to fund a peacekeeping force in Gaza Politico: The US Department of Defense is holding preliminary talks to fund a peacekeeping force in Gaza

Politico: The US Department of Defense is holding preliminary talks to fund a peacekeeping force in Gaza

Politico: The US Department of Defense is holding preliminary talks to fund a peacekeeping force in Gaza

Washington: Politico newspaper reported on Thursday that the US Department of Defense (the Pentagon) is holding preliminary talks to fund a peacekeeping mission in the Gaza Strip.

The American newspaper explained that officials in the administration of President Joe Biden are holding preliminary “talks” about options for achieving stability in Gaza after the war, including a proposal for the Pentagon to help finance a multinational force or a Palestinian peacekeeping team.

The options being considered would not include US forces on the ground, according to Defense Department and other US officials. Instead, Defense Department funding will go toward the needs of security forces and supplement assistance from other countries.

“We are working with partners on different scenarios for interim governance and security structures in Gaza once the crisis subsides,” a senior administration official said, declining to provide specific details. “We have had a number of conversations with both the Israelis and our partners about the essential elements for the next day in Gaza when the time is right,” he added.

The newspaper indicated that it may take weeks or months before Washington and its partners agree to any plan, especially since regional players want to see a commitment to the two-state solution before seriously engaging in the options. There are also questions about the feasibility of training a potential Palestinian-led force in time to maintain order in Gaza, which has been devastated after five months of war. It stated that Israel is reluctant to hold these talks until it defeats Hamas militarily and ensures the release of detainees. Some officials within the Israeli government have called for occupying Gaza after the war, a proposal the United States opposes.

Israel is reluctant to hold these talks until it defeats Hamas militarily and secures the release of detainees

“Israel is the long pole in the tent,” one Defense Ministry official said, noting that “its hands are busy with other things.”

“It would be different if the administration and the Israeli government agreed on the way forward, but that is not the case,” the official said.

The four officials, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed that talks include the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and foreign counterparts about what a potential security force would look like the next day. Discussions indicate that these forces remain serious and viable post-war options. Under initial plans being drawn up, the Defense Department would provide funding for some type of security force that would not include U.S. troops on the ground in Gaza, according to Defense Department officials. One official added that the aid could be used for reconstruction, infrastructure, humanitarian aid and other needs.

According to the Defense Department official, the Pentagon had begun looking at options to support some type of multinational force to stabilize Gaza around the new year, when there were expectations that Israel could soon begin winding down its operations. Then in January, Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Israel to work with regional countries and the Palestinians to rebuild, stabilize and govern Gaza once the war ends. “This can only be done through a regional approach that includes a path to a Palestinian state,” he said during a visit to Israel.

Several countries in the Middle East have told the Biden administration that they will only consider participating when there is a serious plan for a two-state solution

The Defense Department official said that although US officials have held talks with regional partners about what the formation of such a force would look like, none of them have confirmed participation because the plan has not yet been finalized. Several countries in the Middle East have told the Biden administration that they will only consider participating when there is a serious plan for a two-state solution. “Although we had conversations on the sidelines with regional partners about what they would have to do, contribute and accept, this did not receive serious attention from our Israeli partner,” the official said.

The official added that Israel “is not looking to signal an end because it has not yet achieved the goals it seeks” in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department is focused on increasing the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, including ensuring the security of the US military’s plan to build a pier to deliver resources by sea to the Strip, and urging Israel to consider “alternatives” to the Rafah operation.

The official added that the “what comes next” talks also include the possibility of a two-state solution.

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