Netanyahu insists on right to continue war – even before negotiations begin

Netanyahu insists on right to continue war – even before negotiations begin
Netanyahu insists on right to continue war – even before negotiations begin

Is Benjamin Netanyahu trying to sabotage a deal? The talks with Hamas are at a critical point. Israel’s head of government is already listing conditions.

Shortly before the resumption of indirect negotiations on a hostage agreement in the Gaza war, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding the right to continue fighting against Hamas – and is immediately causing anger. “Any agreement will allow Israel to resume fighting until all war aims are achieved,” says a list of conditions published by the Prime Minister’s Office. Critics accuse Netanyahu of wanting to sabotage a deal.

Does Benjamin Netanyahu object to a possible hostage agreement?

The indirect negotiations on a ceasefire and an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners are set to continue this week in Cairo. Egypt, Qatar and the USA are mediating between both sides. A phased plan is on the table. The mediators are currently trying to formulate a solution to bridge the existing gap on contentious issues. Netanyahu’s comments are damaging these efforts, the Times of Israel quoted an unnamed senior representative of the mediators as saying.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid also criticized Netanyahu for listing the conditions for a deal: “We are at a critical moment in the negotiations, the lives of the abductees depend on it, so why such provocative messages? What does this contribute to the process?” Lapid wrote on Platform X. At the conclusion of nationwide protests and road blockades on “Day of Disruption,” thousands in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem accused Netanyahu of obstructing the negotiation process.

A mother’s desperate appeal

“For nine months you have abandoned the hostages. Netanyahu – stop dragging it out. We want them home and it is up to you to bring them home,” shouted the mother of one of the hostages held by the Islamist Hamas during an evening protest in the city of Tel Aviv. To draw attention to the fate of her son and that of the other 120 or so hostages still held in the Gaza Strip, the woman climbed into a black cage hanging under a road bridge.

“There is a deal on the table that can save lives, and all of us,” the Times of Israel quoted the desperate mother as saying. Addressing the head of government, she shouted: “I want to say to Netanyahu: The keys to this cage and all other cages are in your hands.” More and more citizens in Israel are losing patience and joining the weekly protests. Retired army general Noam Tibon recently said at one of the rallies in Tel Aviv: “Netanyahu cynically sabotages every deal, even though he knows that the hostages in the tunnels of Gaza are suffering torture and murder.”

Netanyahu governs with ultra-religious and right-wing extremist coalition partners who reject concessions to Hamas. Netanyahu, who has been under investigation for corruption for a long time, is dependent on these partners for his political survival. At the renewed demonstrations, thousands of people demanded immediate new elections. The latest protests were fueled by reports that, after a long standstill, there is progress in the negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the USA.

Hamas shows flexibility in negotiations

Egypt will be holding intensive consultations with all sides in the coming days, reported the state-affiliated television station Al-Kahira, citing senior Egyptian government officials. The Islamist Hamas is now reportedly showing flexibility and has deviated from its core demand that Israel must first commit to ending the war.

Israel wants to keep the option of continuing the war open in order to destroy Hamas as a military formation and government power in the Gaza Strip. The Prime Minister’s Office listed as further conditions for an agreement that Israel would “maximize” the number of live hostages that Hamas would have to release as part of a deal. It would also not allow armed fighters to return to northern Gaza. Weapons smuggling from Egypt would be stopped.

Concern about situation in northern Israel

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant also spoke out in favor of an agreement in the Gaza war, but during a visit to troops in northern Israel he also emphasized the defensive struggle against the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, which is allied with Hamas. Even if a hostage agreement with Hamas is reached, “and I very much hope that we can do that,” that will not change the situation in northern Israel for the time being, said Galant.

“Even if there is a ceasefire there (in the south), we will continue to fight here (in the north) and do everything necessary to achieve the desired result,” he said. Israel wants to use military and political pressure to get Hezbollah to withdraw behind the Litani River, 30 kilometers from the border – as a UN resolution stipulates. Since the beginning of the Gaza war, the Iranian-backed militia has been shelling northern Israel – according to its own statements, out of “solidarity” with Hamas in Gaza.

In return, Israel is using air and artillery attacks to attack Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, as well as targets deep in the interior of Lebanon. There have already been fatalities on both sides. Recently, the intensity of the daily fighting has increased significantly. There are concerns that the fighting will escalate into a regional conflict.

On October 7, terrorists from Hamas and other groups attacked Israel and killed 1,200 people. In addition, around 250 other people were taken hostage in the Gaza Strip. The unprecedented massacre was the trigger for the Gaza war. According to Israeli sources, around 120 hostages are currently being held in the sealed-off coastal area. However, it is uncertain how many of them are still alive.

Source: Stern

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