Truce in Gaza: Netanyahu up against the wall

Israeli Prime Minister “has long been juggling conflicting personal, political and national interests”, observe the New York Times. “He now appears to be faced with a difficult choice, between the survival of his intransigent and hawkish government, and the return of hostages held in Gaza”.

For the American daily, Benjamin Netanyahu is “in embarrassment” since American President Joe Biden unveiled a ceasefire plan in Gaza on Friday evening, drawn up according to the White House by the Israeli government itself. A plan that far-right ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich immediately denounced, threatening to leave the government if it were to be adopted.

Fact“Netanyahu’s office initially appeared to contradict Biden’s plan”affirming on Saturday that “the conditions imposed by Israel to end the war – the destruction of Hamas’s military and political capabilities, the release of all hostages and the guarantee that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel – were not met”, note Fox News.

Apparently contradictory messages which sowed doubt about the real origin of the three-phase plan presented by Mr. Biden. But on Sunday, Ophir Falk, Mr. Netanyahu’s adviser on international affairs, confirmed in the columns of Sunday Times that it was indeed an agreement that Israel “had accepted”.

“It’s not a good deal, but we sincerely hope that all the hostages are released”he added, insisting that it remained “lots of details to sort out”.

Washington keeps up the pressure

The first phase of the plan – the most concrete at present – ​​provides for a six-week ceasefire, accompanied by an Israeli withdrawal from the most populated areas of Gaza, and the release of hostages held by the Hamas and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Throughout the weekend, the United States increased its statements and press releases putting pressure on Israel and Hamas to validate the agreement. On Saturday, Washington, Doha and Cairo, mediators in the conflict, called “Hamas and Israel to finalize ceasefire agreement based on principles outlined by President Joe Biden”.

Sunday morning, it was the turn of John Kirby, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, to keep up the pressure, by declaring on ABC : “We expect, if Hamas agrees to the proposal as transmitted to it – an Israeli proposal – that Israel will say yes.”

And on Sunday evening, the spokesperson for the American State Department announced that the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken had called Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during the day, to discuss “the proposal to achieve a full ceasefire” in Gaza. “The secretary of state praised Israel’s willingness to reach a deal and said it was up to Hamas to accept it”he clarified.

Netanyahu’s ‘dilemma’

Faced with cross pressure from his American ally and his far-right ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing a “dilemma”, analysis The evening. Because he can “hardly push back Joe Biden’s plan to end the war in Gaza. But accepting it would cause the resignation of far-right ministers and the fall of his government”.

But Mr. Netanyahu, “long plagued by accusations of corruption that he denies, sees remaining in power as his best chance to avoid prosecution, as well as postpone investigations and hearings into the security failures that contributed to the “Hamas attack of October 7”, REMARK The Guardian.

For the Financial Times, “With his room for maneuver shrinking at home and abroad, Netanyahu will likely play for time, hoping that other developments – including Hamas’ response – may spare him from having to make a decision that would threaten his far-right government”.

“So far, the activist group has said it ‘views positively’ Biden’s speech, but remains steadfast in its demand that any deal must be based on a ‘permanent ceasefire’ and – crucially – that Israel ‘clearly announces its commitment to such an agreement’”underlines the economic daily.

Ha’Aretz observe for his part that by presenting the Israeli road map and confronting the actors in the conflict with their responsibilities, Joe Biden made a bold bet. “If Israel and Hamas fail to validate the agreement, even though Biden has taken an unprecedented risk, who can guess what happens next”writes the Israeli daily.

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