According to people familiar with US government discussions, the plans are still at an early stage and depend on future developments, including on whether Israel’s ground operation against Hamas is a success.
The idea, which would effectively see the Palestinian armed group removed from power, would also require the participation of regional Arab states, which could be tricky to secure, the report added.
Commenting on the potential of getting Arab nations on board, William Usher, a former senior Middle East analyst at the CIA, told Bloomberg that it “would require a major shift in how Arab states accept risk and work with one another” as well as a “leap of trust” by Israel at a time when this “commodity [is] in short supply.”
After Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, leaving thousands of dead and injured, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “crush and destroy” the Palestinian group.
On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant outlined three phases of war with Hamas. The first would involve aerial bombardment and ground operations, followed by lower-intensity fighting to eliminate “pockets of resistance” in Gaza. The final stage would require “removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip and the establishment of a new security reality”.
At the same time, Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid suggested on Thursday that the best solution for Gaza after the conflict is over would be to return it to the control of the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which was ousted by Hamas from the enclave in 2007.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported on Friday that the US and some of its European allies are pushing Israel to postpone its ground operation to win more time to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, which has captured some 200 people since the violence began. The same day, US officials confirmed that the group had set free two American hostages.
Washington has also reportedly exerted an unprecedented influence over the plan for the ground operation, fearing that an all-out attack on Gaza may trigger a broader conflict, drawing in Hezbollah.