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No Gaza ceasefire until Israel war aims achieved, Netanyahu says

  • Author, Hugo Bachega
  • Role, Middle East correspondent

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted there will be no permanent ceasefire in Gaza until Hamas’s military and government capabilities are destroyed and all hostages are released .

His statement came after US President Joe Biden announced that Israel had offered Hamas a three-step plan aimed at achieving a permanent ceasefire.

A senior Hamas politician told the BBC he would “accept this deal” if Israel did so.

The negotiations come as fighting continues in Rafah, with reports of Israeli airstrikes on Saturday in the town on the Egypt-Gaza border.

There is no guarantee that Mr. Biden’s public pressure on Israel and Hamas to accept the plan will result in a deal.

In a statement released on Saturday, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said that “the conditions imposed by Israel to end the war have not changed.”

He lists them as “the destruction of Hamas’ military and government capabilities, the release of all hostages, and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

The statement added that Israel “will continue to insist that these conditions are met” before agreeing to a permanent ceasefire, stressing that no agreement can be signed until they are met.

On Friday, Mr. Biden described the plan as a comprehensive Israeli proposal paving the way for a permanent ceasefire.

The first phase would include a total and complete ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas and the exchange of some hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

This would then be followed by the return of all the hostages still alive, including the male soldiers.

The final phase would see the return of the remains of all deceased Israeli hostages, as well as a “major reconstruction plan” with U.S. and international help to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals, Mr. Biden said.

A complete end to the conflict is a key demand for Hamas to begin talks.

Following Mr Netanyahu’s reaffirmation of its war aims, a Hamas spokesman said it would support the plan if Israel did so.

Basem Naim, a member of Hamas’ political bureau based in Qatar, told the BBC World Service’s Newshour program that the organization welcomed the plan, but that the next step depended on Israel.

In response to Mr. Netanyahu’s statement, he stressed that Israel’s goals may not have changed, but they had not achieved them either.

“If he tries to continue, he will find nothing but the will of the Palestinians – of all Palestinians – to resist the occupation,” Mr. Naim said.

The proposal presented by Mr. Biden appears to provide an opportunity for Israel and Hamas to say that their demands have been met.

For Hamas, this explicitly paves the way for a permanent ceasefire, which is a key demand of the group for any agreement. He wants a guarantee that the Israeli army will not return to Gaza after the hostages are released, and this offer does exactly that.

This will undoubtedly face opposition in Israel.

Mr. Biden attempted to address those concerns by saying Hamas had been so degraded that it lacked the capacity to carry out another major attack on Israel.

He acknowledged, however, that not everyone in Israel would accept the deal, but urged the government to resist pressure.

Among those likely to be opposed to the plan are far-right members of Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, who have already threatened to resign if a deal is reached that ends the war before the destruction of the Hamas. This could lead to the end of the Netanyahu government.

But one of Israel’s most influential opposition politicians, Yair Lapid, promised to support Mr Netanyahu if he backed the ceasefire deal.

In a social media post, Mr. Lapid told the Israeli prime minister that he “has a safety net for a hostage deal” if far-right allies like National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich leave the government.

The statement from Mr. Netanyahu’s office seemed vague enough for him to claim his goals had been achieved.

Interestingly, he does not speak of “total victory” – which is repeatedly the goal of the Israeli army in Gaza.

The omission could allow Mr. Netanyahu to dismiss criticism that the deal would offer major concessions to Hamas.

Israel has stepped up attacks in the key town of Rafah in recent weeks, claiming operational control of the entire border with Egypt.

American, Israeli and Egyptian officials are to meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the reopening of the Rafah crossing, according to Egyptian media.

Aid flows into Gaza have been restricted since the border was closed in early May after Israeli forces took control of it as part of their offensive to take control of Gaza’s southern border.

More than 36,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the conflict, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

The war began in October when Hamas gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking 252 hostages back to Gaza.

News Source : www.bbc.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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