Trump Administration Wants to See a Gaza Cease-fire 'With or Without the Palestinian Authority'

A spokesperson for the National Security Council tells Haaretz that while 'it would be best if the PA reasserts control' over the Strip,it doesn't have to be part of deal ■ Israel's security cabinet to convene to discuss cease-fire

U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and aide Jared Kushner meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

WASHINGTON  The Trump administration wants to see a long-term cease-fire in Gaza, with or without the support of the Palestinian Authority, a spokesperson for the White House's National Security Council told Haaretz on Monday.

The administration, this spokesperson explained, would view the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza as a positive development - but wants to see a stable cease-fire in place regardless of whether or not the PA has a role in it.

The spokesperson  explained that the Trump administration "supports Egypt's efforts to secure a cease-fire in Gaza" and "remains in close communication with Israel, Egypt, and the UN with respect to Gaza."

The spokesperson added that "we would like to see an end to fighting with or without the PA," but emphasized that the administration still believes "it would be best if the PA reasserts control in Gaza so we can get on with making lives better."

>> Analysis: To maintain Gaza cease-fire, Hamas expects more from Israel than just incentives

On Wednesday, Israel's security cabinet will convene once again to discuss the situation in Gaza, amid reports of progress in the negotiations led by Egypt and the UN to reach a long-term cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. In addition, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is expected to announce the reopening of the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza on Wednesday morning, assuming no security incidents take place before then. 

President Trump's special envoy to the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, has said on a number of occasions over the past year that the Trump peace team would like to see the PA return to Gaza and take control over the situation there.

The PA has not been in control of Gaza ever since Hamas took over the coastal enclave in 2007. However, in recent months, administration officials have grown frustrated with Abbas' approach towards Gaza, which they have described in private conversations as negative and unhelpful, in contrast to the efforts of Egypt and the UN to find a solution to the current deadlock. 

Palestinian women walk next to a wall with graffiti showing U.S. President Donald Trump with a footprint on his face and Arabic that reads, "For al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the right of return we resist," in Gaza City, May 20, 2018.
AP/Khalil Hamra

On Monday, Israeli Channel 10 reported that Prime Minister Netanyahu held a secret meeting with Egyptian President Sissi two months ago, in which the two leaders discussed ways to improve the situation in Gaza. Sissi, according to the report, emphasized that the long-term goal has to be a return of the PA to Gaza. 

Palestinian officials, meanwhile, accuse the Trump administration's policies of worsening the situation in Gaza, especially the ongoing freezing of more than $200 million of American aid to the Palestinians that had been authorized by Congress, but are being put on hold by the White House. A large sum of this money was supposed to go to humanitarian groups and projects in Gaza. 

Another source for concern in Gaza is the American cut in funding for UNRWA, the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, which operates many of the schools and welfare programs in Gaza. Arab diplomats had previously criticized the administration for trying to raise money from the Gulf countries for projects in Gaza, at the same time that it is cutting American support for the Palestinians there by hundreds of millions of dollars.