Gaza: The False Allure of the Gallant Plan

Thinking ahead: Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant attends a press conference. Image: Associated Press / Alamy

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s recently outlined plan for a post-war Gaza may appear to constitute a positive vision for the day after the fighting concludes, but it has little chance of being implemented and is fundamentally flawed.

On 4 January, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant publicised his ‘day after Hamas’ scenario for the Gaza Strip. Previously, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had refused to even outline a post-war plan for Gaza, and expressly forbade his ministers from doing so. That Gallant became the first Israeli minister to detail a post-war plan is therefore a substantial policy shift. For the first time, observers have an on-the-record insight into how key decision-makers within Israel’s government envision the Israel–Hamas conflict ending.

The announcement is significant for a different yet equally important reason. That Gallant was willing to delineate a post-war plan implies that influential figures in Israel’s government are finally openly acknowledging that the conflict might soon end. The timing is also no coincidence: several days after Gallant announced his plan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a whistle-stop tour of the Middle East with the explicit purpose of soliciting regional buy-in for the Biden administration’s vision for a post-war Gaza.

The ‘Gallant Plan’

The plan’s primary objective – that Hamas will not exercise any political or military power in the coastal enclave after hostilities conclude – is unsurprising and commands a consensus within Israel’s mainstream political spectrum.

More innovative than this are the four ‘pillars’ proposed by Gallant to achieve this lofty goal. These are that: (i) Israel will maintain security control over the territory, including the right to re-enter any parts of Gaza it has withdrawn from; (ii) a multinational, US-sanctioned force ‘will run the territory’s day-to-day bureaucracy and facilitate its rehabilitation’; (iii) Egypt and Israel will monitor and control Gaza’s southern border crossing; and (iv) Gaza’s existing non-Hamas-affiliated Palestinian infrastructure and civilian bureaucracy will remain in place.

Losing the lifeline of US support would at best curtail the Israel Defense Forces’ operational freedom, and at worst force Israel to withdraw from Gaza before meeting its objectives

Critically, the plan envisions Israeli forces withdrawing from most of the Gaza Strip, and rules out establishing any civilian settlements within the territory. Further, Israel will not rule Gaza ‘on a civilian level’. Instead, local Palestinian notables will be permitted a role in the territory’s everyday governance. If implemented, the plan would thus disprove the often-repeated claims that Israel is seeking to either ethnically cleanse the territory or employ the war as a smokescreen for a permanent landgrab.

Contextualising the Plan

Yet it is these very same aspects of the plan that are the most divisive within Israel. Multiple ministers have explicitly called for Israel to annex parts of Gaza and establish civilian settlements there. The plan therefore sets Gallant on a collision course with his fellow ministers, several of whom have already retaliated by publishing their own visions for the territory’s future. Gallant’s announcement has escalated an ongoing power struggle at the heart of Israel’s political and military elite. This struggle will determine Gaza’s future and the degree to which Israel entwines itself with the territory.

Gallant’s outing of this long-simmering internal conflict has realised Netanyahu’s greatest fear. Netanyahu has repeatedly resisted the significant and growing pressure from the Biden administration to publish a post-war plan precisely because he knows that doing so would only harm his own overarching objective which extends above and beyond any of Israel’s war aims: maintaining his hold on power as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

Backing Gallant’s plan would doom Netanyahu’s coalition by alienating the far-right allies on whom he is reliant for his political survival. But endorsing their vision for a post-war Gaza would precipitate a public spat with the Biden administration. This is exactly why the US has pressured Netanyahu to make his stance clear. Its support for Israel’s war is conditional, and it will not back a post-war vision that ends in expulsions, annexations or occupations. Losing this lifeline of superpower support would at best curtail the Israel Defense Forces’ operational freedom, and at worst force Israel to withdraw from Gaza before meeting its objectives.

Faced with no good options, Netanyahu has chosen equivocation. Gallant’s proposed blueprint ups the ante and makes it harder for him to continue to do so.

Assessing the Gallant Plan and its Prospects for Implementation

Despite representing a more moderate vision than other voices in Israel’s cabinet, the Gallant plan is fundamentally flawed.

The Gallant plan is less a true vision for the ‘day after’ in Gaza and more political posturing by the defence minister for the day after Israel’s current government falls

Firstly, it contains no indication of who would oversee policing in the parts of Gaza that Israel would withdraw from. Gallant has ruled out the Palestinian Authority for the time being, but has offered no alternative. However, having a robust and durable policing infrastructure in place is a prerequisite for preventing Hamas from returning to power. As such, the plan fails to answer a pivotal question: if Israel now perceives Hamas as so de-legitimated that it can have no role in continuing to maintain law and order within the densely populated and increasingly lawless Gaza Strip, who will replace it?

While Gallant might retort that this task would fall to non-Hamas-affiliated Palestinian elites and the envisioned multinational coalition backing them, this exposes the plan’s second flaw: it presumes this diverse array of actors will both blindly adopt the plan and make no counter-demands of their own. Israel’s ongoing military campaign has caused over 25,000 Palestinian deaths within the Gaza Strip. The unprecedented toll means that any Palestinian notables will see collaboration with Israel as politically untenable. While Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have not definitively rejected a role in any future multinational coalition, they have conditioned their involvement on Israel endorsing the two-state solution and reviving the moribund peace process. For Israel’s far-right government, this vision is not only a non-starter; it is an existential threat.

That the plan contains no vision for facilitating conflict resolution constitutes its third significant defect. On the contrary, by replacing an unsustainable, comprehensive military presence throughout Gaza with a more manageable one, the plan could actually prolong the conflict. Gallant’s vision for Gaza appears strikingly similar to the status quo in the West Bank, where Israel has long controlled the borders and key strategic points while outsourcing civilian governance to the Palestinian Authority. Unlike the West Bank, Gallant envisions no Israeli settlers in a post-war Gaza. But this detail notwithstanding, Gallant’s plan for Gaza appears less a radical vision and more a continuation of Israel’s long-held policy of pursuing conflict management by maintaining as small and therefore as sustainable a footprint of occupation as possible.

It would, therefore, be a mistake for the Biden administration and its allies to endorse Gallant’s plan. Equally, there is no chance of Israel’s far-right government backing the initiative. As such, the Gallant plan is less a true vision for the ‘day after’ in Gaza and more political posturing by the defence minister for the day after Israel’s current government falls. In publishing his plan, Gallant has navigated a delicate internal and external balancing act, aiming to burnish his relative moderation to the US and the wider international community while positioning himself within Israel as a security-focused centrist. Whether he has achieved either of these objectives remains to be seen.

The views expressed in this Commentary are the author’s, and do not represent those of RUSI or any other institution.

Have an idea for a Commentary you’d like to write for us? Send a short pitch to and we’ll get back to you if it fits into our research interests. Full guidelines for contributors can be found here.


Rob Geist Pinfold

View profile


Explore our related content