The United States and its partners are reportedly discussing sending foreign troops to Gaza to serve as an ‘international peacekeeping force’ in the region currently controlled by Hamas militants following the war in Israel.
Two U.S. senators confirmed the early, closed-door talks to Politico, though it is unclear if negotiations including potential sending American troops.
‘There certainly has been discussion with the Saudi about their being part of some international peacekeeping force if only to provide resources, and, longer term, supporting Palestinian leadership and a separate state, obviously,’ Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told Politico. ‘Reconstruction of Gaza will require a vast amount of resources, which the Saudis potentially could help provide.’
‘I’m not sure how active the conversation is about U.S. troops,’ Blumenthal added, speaking of the discussions he had with the congressional delegation with whom he traveled to Israel last month. ‘I would think that maybe an international force could be mustered without U.S. troops.’
‘There are ongoing conversations regarding the possible composition of an international force,’ Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., also told Politico, reportedly declining to go into detail. ‘They are very preliminary and fragile.’
‘I do think it’d be important to have some kind of multinational force in Gaza as a transition to whatever comes next,’ he added.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg first reported that the United States and Israel were weighing the option of a multinational force in the Gaza Strip once Hamas is ousted. However, in a statement to the outlet, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson reported denied ‘sending U.S. troops’ was under consideration.
Speaking with Politico, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Ben Cardin, D-Md., who traveled to the Middle East with Blumenthal, said talks with Israeli officials included how aid and security would be administered in Gaza after the conflict. Though he prefers a multinational force, Cardin explained that sensitivities in the region to American troops could deter them from being involved heavily in the coalition intended to maintain order.
‘It’s got to be credible, it’s got to provide security, and it has to involve the surrounding states that believe in a two-state solution,’ Cardin said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday that the Biden administration prefers that the Palestinian Authority lead Gaza after Hamas’ defeat if possible. However, that is only if, ‘there are other temporary arrangements that may involve a number of other countries in the region,’ he told lawmakers. ‘It may involve international agencies that would help provide for both security and governance.’