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The War Between Israel and Gaza: Live Updates – The New York Times

The War Between Israel and Gaza: Live Updates – The New York Times

Important news

For months, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to provide a timetable for ending the war against Hamas in Gaza, a reticence that critics see as a political tactic. But it was put in an awkward position this weekend by President Biden’s announcement outlining a truce proposal.

Mr. Netanyahu, a conservative, has long reconciled competing personal, political and national interests. It now appears that he faces a stark choice between the survival of his hardline and hawkish government and the return of the hostages held in Gaza to their homeland, while setting himself and Israel on a new path away from growing international isolation.

The prime minister’s critics have portrayed him as indecisive and say there are two Netanyahus: one working pragmatically in the small war cabinet he has formed with some centrist rivals, bolstering its public legitimacy; Another has himself become a virtual hostage of the far-right members of his ruling coalition, who oppose any concession to Hamas and who guarantee his political survival.

On Friday, Biden set out the general conditions that he said Israel had presented to the American, Qatari and Egyptian mediators who were pressing to reach an agreement to stop the fighting and release hostages held in Gaza. Israeli officials confirmed that the terms match the ceasefire proposal that was given the green light by the Israeli war government but has not yet been presented to the Israeli public.

Now, analysts say, this is a difficult time for Netanyahu, or Bibi, as he is popularly known.

Mr. Biden “brought Netanyahu out of the closet of obscurity and presented Netanyahu’s proposal himself,” Ben Caspit, Mr. Netanyahu’s biographer and longtime critic, wrote in the Hebrew daily Maariv on Sunday. Then he asked a simple question: Does Bibi support Netanyahu’s proposal? yes or no. No nonsense and hot air.

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The leaders of two far-right parties in the coalition — Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, and Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister — have explicitly threatened to bring down Mr. Netanyahu’s government if the prime minister agrees to the deal. Which Mr. Biden set before Hamas was completely destroyed. Some hardline members of Netanyahu’s Likud party said they would join them.

Meanwhile, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, two former military commanders who joined the emergency government throughout the war, have threatened to withdraw support for the centrist National Unity Party by June 8 if Netanyahu fails to attend. With a clear path forward. And the opposition parties have The organization began To try to overthrow the government.

The ceasefire proposal includes three stages. They will witness the release of groups of hostages in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The temporary ceasefire would turn into a permanent cessation of hostilities, with the third phase including internationally supported efforts to rehabilitate Gaza.

More than 100 hostages were released under a limited agreement last November. An estimated 125 hostages, alive or dead, remain held by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza.

Ofir Falk, Netanyahu’s chief foreign policy adviser, said in an interview with the British newspaper The Sunday Times that Biden’s proposal was “a deal we agreed on.” Mr. Falk added that many details remained to be worked out, saying: “It’s not a good deal but we desperately want the hostages released, all of them.”

Israelis were left to parse the two statements that followed Mr. Biden’s speech and which Mr. Netanyahu’s office issued, unusually, during the day on Saturday. The statements did not strongly support the proposal and did not deny submitting it to the mediators. Instead, these decisions were conditional and open to interpretation, and appeared designed to leave Mr. Netanyahu’s options open.

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The first statement said that Mr. Netanyahu authorized the Israeli negotiating team to submit a proposal that would lead to the release of the hostages and also “enable Israel to continue the war until it achieves all of its objectives, including the destruction of Hamas’ military and governance capabilities.” “.

The second reiterated those conditions for ending the war and added: “The idea of ​​Israel agreeing to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are met is unacceptable.”

Noticeably absent, however, was Mr. Netanyahu’s oft-stated goal of “total victory” over Hamas in Gaza — a slogan that Mr. Biden on Friday dismissed as a vague goal that could mean indefinite war.