July 21, 2024


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Israel-Hamas war: Netanyahu’s latest comments test US-backed truce proposal

Israel-Hamas war: Netanyahu’s latest comments test US-backed truce proposal

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The feasibility of a U.S.-backed proposal to end conflict in the Middle East appears to be in doubt. The war on Gaza has been going on for 8 months This issue came into doubt after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would only be prepared to agree to a “partial” ceasefire agreement that would not end the war, statements that caused an uproar among the families of hostages held by Hamas.

In an interview broadcast on Israel’s Channel 14, a conservative pro-Netanyahu station, late Sunday, the Israeli leader said he was “ready to make a partial deal – and this is no secret – that will bring some people back to us,” in reference to that. Nearly 120 hostages are still being held in the Gaza Strip. But we are committed to continuing the war after it has stopped, in order to complete the goal of eliminating Hamas. “I’m not ready to give that up.”

Netanyahu’s statements did not deviate significantly from what he had previously said regarding his conditions for reaching an agreement. But it comes at a sensitive time, as Israel and Hamas appear to be drifting further apart on the latest ceasefire proposal, and could represent another setback for mediators trying to end the war.

Netanyahu’s statements contradicted sharply what was stated in the statements Outline of the deal It was detailed late last month by US President Joe Biden, who drafted the plan as Israeli and which some in Israel refer to as the “Netanyahu deal.” His statements can Which increases the tension in Israel’s relations with the United Statesits biggest ally, which launched a major diplomatic campaign for the latest ceasefire proposal.

The three-stage plan will lead to the release of the remaining hostages in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel. but Disagreements and mistrust continue Between Israel and Hamas on how to implement the deal.

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Hamas insists that it will not release the remaining hostages unless there is a permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. When Biden announced the latest proposal, he said it included both.

But Netanyahu says Israel remains committed to destroying Hamas’ military and governance capabilities, and ensuring that it is never again able to carry out an attack similar to what happened on October 7. It is almost certain that a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, where Hamas’s senior leadership and a large portion of its forces remain intact, would leave the movement in control of the region and able to rearm it.

Netanyahu said in the interview The current phase of combat endsThis paves the way for Israel to send more forces to its northern borders to confront the Lebanese armed group Hizb allahThis may open a new war front. But he said that this does not mean that the war in Gaza is over.

On Monday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed tensions on the border with Lebanon during his visit to Washington with Amos Hochstein, one of Biden’s senior advisors. He repeated Netanyahu’s statements that the war in Gaza is moving into a new phase, which could affect other conflicts, including the conflict with Hezbollah.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Gallant that it was necessary to avoid escalation of the conflict in the Middle East and find a solution that “allows Israeli and Lebanese families to return to their homes.”

Israel is close to dismantling Hamas military brigades in the southern city of Rafah, and retains “full control” of the Philadelphia Corridor, a strategic buffer zone along Gaza’s border with Egypt, Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevy said. Israel says the corridor is full of tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle weapons and other goods. Halevy said that Israel’s control of the buffer zone would put an end to this.

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During the initial six-week phase of the proposed ceasefire, the two sides are supposed to negotiate an agreement on the second phase, which Biden said would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza. The temporary ceasefire will become permanent.

Hamas appears concerned that Israel will resume the war once its most vulnerable hostages are returned. Even if that does not happen, Israel could make demands at that stage of the negotiations that were not part of the initial deal and are unacceptable to Hamas – and then resume the war when Hamas rejects them.

Netanyahu’s statements reinforced this concern. After it was broadcast, Hamas said it represented “an unequivocal confirmation of its rejection” of the US-backed agreement, which was also accepted. With the support of the United Nations Security Council.

In a statement issued late Sunday after Netanyahu’s lengthy television interview, the Palestinian movement said his position “contradicts” what the US administration said Israel had agreed to. The movement said that its insistence that any agreement include a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip is “an imperative necessity to repel Netanyahu’s attempts to evade, deceive, and perpetuate the aggression and war of extermination against Israel.” “Our people.”

Netanyahu responded and said in a statement issued by his office that Hamas opposes the deal. He said that Israel will not withdraw from Gaza until all 120 hostages are returned.

Hamas welcomed the broad outlines of the American plan, but proposed what it said were “amendments.” During a visit to the region earlier this month, Blinken said some of Hamas’ demands were “doable” and others were not, without going into detail.

Netanyahu and Hamas alike Incentives to continue the destructive war Despite the catastrophic civilian casualties in Gaza and the growing anger in Israel over the failure to return the hostages and the failure of Hamas.

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The hostage families have become increasingly impatient with Netanyahu, seeing his apparent reluctance to go ahead with the deal as tainted by political considerations. A group representing families condemned Netanyahu’s statements, which they considered an Israeli rejection of the recent ceasefire proposal.

She considered that “this is an abandonment of the 120 hostages and a violation of the state’s moral duty towards its citizens,” noting that she holds Netanyahu responsible for returning all the prisoners.

Earlier Sunday, Netanyahu repeated his words Claim US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said on Monday that he did not understand Netanyahu’s comments and that Biden did not show any willingness to accept any proposal from Israel. It delayed only one shipment of heavy bombs Due to fears of heavy casualties among civilians.

Miller told reporters in Washington: “There are other weapons that we continue to provide to Israel as we have done for years and years, because we are committed to Israel’s security.” “There’s been no change in that.”

In its cross-border attack on October 7, Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people and captured 250, including women, children and the elderly. Dozens were released under a temporary ceasefire in late November, and Israel says about a third of the remaining 120 hostages have died.

The Israeli war of retaliation led to the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Ministry of Health in the territories controlled by Hamas. He raised a Humanitarian crisis It displaced most of the region’s population of 2.3 million people.


Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press reporter Matthew Lee contributed from Washington, D.C


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war