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Middle East

Netanyahu shows willingness for ceasefire but insists on right to resume fighting

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  • Netanyahu is open to a U.S.-backed ceasefire but insists on the right to resume military operations.
  • Internal political dynamics in Israel, including threats from far-right ministers, complicate the situation.
  • The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen, with severe shortages of essential supplies and a rising death toll.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled a cautious openness to a U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal with Hamas, but with a significant caveat: the right to resume military operations if deemed necessary. This nuanced stance adds complexity to the ongoing diplomatic efforts aimed at resolving the prolonged and devastating conflict in Gaza.

The ceasefire proposal, unveiled by U.S. President Joe Biden, outlines a three-phase plan designed to bring about a permanent cessation of hostilities. The plan includes a six-week ceasefire during which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would withdraw from populated areas of Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a comprehensive reconstruction plan for the war-torn region.

However, Netanyahu's insistence on the destruction of Hamas's military and governing capabilities as a precondition for a permanent truce has raised questions about the feasibility of the deal. "We will not tolerate Hamas's dominion in Gaza under any circumstances," stated Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, echoing Netanyahu's hardline stance.

Diplomatic Efforts and Challenges

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been at the forefront of diplomatic efforts, engaging with key regional mediators and Israeli officials to push for the ceasefire. Blinken commended Israel for its openness to a truce but emphasized that the responsibility now lies with Hamas to accept the terms. Despite these efforts, the ambiguity in the proposal's long-term provisions has led to skepticism about its viability.

Hamas has expressed a willingness to cooperate with any plan based on a permanent ceasefire and the complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza. However, Netanyahu's conditions, which include ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel, complicate the negotiations. "The objective seems to be to highlight Hamas's and right-wing members of the current Israeli government as key obstacles to a diplomatic settlement," noted Brian Katulis, a senior fellow on U.S. foreign policy at the Middle East Institute.

Political Dynamics in Israel

The internal political dynamics in Israel further complicate the situation. Two far-right Israeli ministers, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, have threatened to resign from the coalition government if Netanyahu agrees to the ceasefire without first destroying Hamas. This threat underscores the fragile nature of Netanyahu's coalition, which relies on the support of right-wing factions to maintain power.

In contrast, opposition leader Yair Lapid has pledged his support for the government if Netanyahu decides to back the ceasefire plan. Lapid's Yesh Atid party would serve as a safety net for a hostage deal if Ben-Gvir and Smotrich leave the government, highlighting the complex political landscape Netanyahu must navigate.

Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to worsen, with thousands of civilians caught in the crossfire. The death toll has surpassed 36,000, with many more wounded and displaced. The ongoing conflict has led to severe shortages of food, water, and medical supplies, exacerbating the suffering of the Palestinian population.

Aid agencies have warned of famine in parts of Gaza, and the United Nations has called for a ceasefire to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid. "The longer the war goes on, the more suffering for Israeli and Palestinian civilians," stated Juliette Touma, director of communications at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).

As the conflict drags on, the international community continues to push for a resolution. The U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal represents a significant diplomatic effort, but Netanyahu's insistence on retaining the option to resume military actions complicates the path to peace. The coming weeks will be crucial in determining whether a lasting ceasefire can be achieved and whether the humanitarian crisis in Gaza can be alleviated.

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