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Shifting Tides: Netanyahu Under Pressure as Signs of Change Emerge with Potential Truce

Wednesday, 22 November 2023 04:35 Opinion

"Cracks in Resolve: Netanyahu's Potential Truce with Hamas Signals a Shift Amid Intense Pressures

A potential deal to halt hostilities in Gaza and secure the release of some Israeli hostages hangs in the balance, showcasing a notable departure in strategy for Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Throughout Israel's most significant security crisis in half a century, Netanyahu has staunchly advocated for an uncompromising stance, emphasizing the eradication of Hamas as a military and political force in Gaza.

While the current configuration of the deal may not necessarily indicate a softening of Netanyahu's position, it marks a departure from his steadfast approach. The families of the hostages, staging a massive march to Jerusalem, have exerted significant pressure on Netanyahu and his war cabinet, accusing him of sidelining their concerns. This pressure, combined with a belated realization within the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and security establishment, has prompted a reevaluation of priorities.

The families' effective lobbying, coupled with a newfound recognition that the IDF's responsibilities extend beyond military objectives, has contributed to a potential shift. Analysts suggest that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi have come to understand the need for a more comprehensive approach, acknowledging the duty to bring the hostages, especially mothers and children, back home.

Reports indicate a longstanding divide within the war cabinet, with hardliners, including Netanyahu, advocating for sustained military pressure to weaken Hamas. On the other hand, some argue for seizing available opportunities, no matter how unsatisfactory, before international pressure to de-escalate in Gaza becomes overwhelming. The delicate balance in the war cabinet underscores the complexity of the situation and the evolving dynamics within Israel's leadership amid the ongoing crisis."

"Netanyahu's Pivot: A Personal Encounter with Hostage Families Sparks a Shift

The much-anticipated potential truce between Israel and Hamas seems to be influenced significantly by a critical development—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's personal meeting with the families of the hostages. This encounter, occurring after weeks of refusal on Netanyahu's part to engage with the families, may have played a pivotal role in reshaping his stance. Netanyahu and his Likud party, facing a decline in trust from voters, are grappling with the aftermath of lapses and perceived complacency surrounding the events of October 7th. Recent polls indicate a loss of public confidence, suggesting they would face electoral challenges if an election were held now.

The hostage deal on the table, if finalized, is expected to involve the release of 50 to 100 women and children on the Israeli side in exchange for up to 300 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli detention since before the conflict. Approximately 240 Israelis are currently believed to be held hostage, with the deal excluding military personnel and adult males. The proposed agreement also includes a five-day truce, encompassing a ground ceasefire and restrictions on Israeli air operations in southern Gaza. During this period, aid deliveries would likely resume via the Rafah crossing with Egypt, although the status of other entry points remains uncertain.

While any progress on the hostage front is welcomed, opposition politicians in Israel may seize on Netanyahu's shift as an opportunity to question his judgment and call for his replacement. Yair Lapid, the main opposition leader, is already demanding Netanyahu's resignation. It's crucial to note that a deal and a temporary ceasefire do not signify the end of the conflict or the resolution of the hostage crisis. The situation could potentially reignite with heightened intensity after both sides regroup.

The evolving dynamics also draw international attention, with mediators, especially the Qatari government, and interested parties like the Biden administration, intensifying efforts for a more lasting cessation of hostilities. Growing pressure from the U.S., fueled by concerns among Democratic party supporters and the general public about the civilian toll in Gaza, has added to the urgency. The Hamas-run health authority reports over 13,000 Palestinian deaths since Israel's intervention, while about 1,200, mostly Israeli civilians, perished in the Hamas attacks on October 7th. A recent poll indicates that a majority of Americans support a ceasefire, underscoring the global resonance of the conflict."

"A Potential Turning Point: Biden's Role in Possible Hostage Deal and Its Implications

A potential hostage deal between Israel and Hamas not only holds significance on the regional stage but also offers President Biden an opportunity to showcase the effectiveness of his behind-the-scenes influence with Israel's leadership. Having pledged unstinting support during his recent visit to Tel Aviv, a successful deal could help deflect criticism of U.S. policy from global south countries and ease tensions with European allies, including France, which has been advocating for a ceasefire.

International condemnation of Israel's assault on Gaza, particularly within Arab and Muslim spheres, has bolstered Hamas. Countries like Russia and China have refrained from criticizing Hamas, and a recent compromise UN Security Council resolution omitted condemnation of the October 7th attacks. The impact of a potential deal on Hamas's leadership, particularly Yahya Sinwar, who commands forces in Gaza, remains uncertain. Sinwar, described as a mercurial figure, may leverage a deal, especially if it includes a truce, as a tactical victory, justifying the suffering caused by the conflict.

However, internal divisions within Hamas add complexity. While Sinwar influences events on the ground, the exiled political leadership in Qatar, led by Ismail Haniyeh, negotiates the hostage deal. The perspectives of these two factions may not align, mirroring the internal differences within Israel. These internal dynamics within both Israel and Hamas could pose challenges to the release of hostages and impede progress toward a lasting peace. The intricacies of these negotiations will undoubtedly shape the future trajectory of the conflict."

"In conclusion, the potential hostage deal between Israel and Hamas not only holds implications for the regional dynamics but also serves as a test of President Biden's diplomatic influence. Success in brokering a deal could not only showcase effective U.S. mediation but also alleviate global criticisms and tensions with European allies. The international condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza has provided Hamas with diplomatic support, highlighting a shifting geopolitical landscape.

However, the uncertain impact of a deal on the Hamas leadership, particularly the enigmatic Yahya Sinwar, introduces complexities. While Sinwar may present a deal as a tactical victory, internal divisions within Hamas, mirrored by those within Israel, pose challenges to the negotiation process and the realization of lasting peace. As negotiations unfold, the intricate dance between external pressures, internal dynamics, and the unpredictable nature of key actors will continue to shape the trajectory of this conflict, leaving the region and the world watching closely for signs of progress or potential setbacks."

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