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Hamas response to proposed ceasefire has embarrassed Netanyahu

February 7, 2024 at 8:00 pm

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a Cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defence, in Tel Aviv on December 17, 2023 [MENAHEM KAHANA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

The Palestinian Resistance Movement, Hamas, has handed over its response to the initial ceasefire deal recommended by a Qatari, Egyptian, French, Israeli and American summit held in Paris last week.

Media reports stated that the proposed deal stipulated a temporary truce for a certain time, during which Hamas, which also represents other Palestinian resistance factions, releases Israeli prisoners in Gaza, in return for a generous flow of humanitarian aid and release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners enduring inhumane conditions in Israeli jails.

Initially, Hamas set its conditions on the deal and said it would study it and consult other factions before giving its final response.

Hamas stressed that it needed a comprehensive cessation of Israeli aggression and a complete withdrawal of the Occupation Forces from Gaza, providing shelter for the displaced people, reconstruction and lifting the 18-year-old Israeli siege and carrying out a serious prisoner exchange.

READ: Blinken says ‘lot of work to be done’ before Gaza ceasefire deal

Israel, the US and others had waited for the response from the Palestinian factions in order to finalise the sought ceasefire deal.

During this time, when Hamas was studying and consulting fellow factions, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, blamed the Palestinian Movement for continuous massacres his country’s army committed against the Palestinians.

At the same time, Netanyahu told families of the Israeli prisoners and other Israeli people and politicians who called for him to stop the war and surrender to Hamas — agree to a prisoner swap — that the ball was in Hamas’s court.

Finally, Hamas handed over its detailed response. It presented a three-stage-deal, with each stage lasting 45 days, starting with the first stage, from cessation of Israel aggression, withdrawal of Israeli Occupation Forces from populated areas, release of batches of prisoners, rebuilding hospitals and important civilian infrastructure, up to the daily entry of 500 trucks of the needed humanitarian aid and fuel.

Hamas stressed, in the second stage, on full cessation of aggression and complete withdrawal of the Israeli Occupation Forces from Gaza, the release of the remaining prisoners, the reconstruction of homes, retention of the flow of humanitarian aid and fuel, as well as guaranteeing unhindered access to the Rafah Crossing for fuel, treatment and other purposes.

The Palestinian Movement stated that the third stage stipulates complete ceasefire, exchange of prisoners’ bodies, accepting a three-year-timetable for the complete reconstruction of Gaza, reassurance of the resumption of all activities of UNRWA and agreeing on a concrete plan for a Palestine State.

Israeli media, including Kan public broadcaster reported that Netanyahu had accepted a potential ceasefire between the stages of the deal without even referring to his war cabinet. He decided to talk to the press on Wednesday. Nothing has yet emerged about his intentions, but analysts and commentators had their say.

Israeli journalist, Moshe Yair, commented: “Hamas embarrassed Netanyahu. It presented a clever response that did not show full acceptance or full objection of the deal. At the same time, it returned the ball to Netanyahu’s court, putting forth its own demands.”

Muna Omari, an Arab-Israeli journalist, said: “Whether it was positive or negative, Netanyahu’s response [Hamas reply] would infuriate the Israelis. “  She stated that, if he accepted Hamas’s demands, he would anger his extremist allies, and if he rejected them, he would anger the Liberals, families of the prisoners, the wounded soldiers, the deep state and the economy.

Even his genocide sponsors, the American administration, put forth several measures in front of him to push him to give up his arrogance. The US administration expressed it optimism about Hamas’s reply; however, it said a deal could be reached in two weeks. The US Congress did not approve the $17 billion aid package to Israel.

The ICJ has changed its head and assigned an Arab Lebanese judge, and Saudi Arabia reiterated its firm stance that there would not be normalisation of ties except after cessation of the aggression on Gaza and accepting the creation of a Palestinian State.

Following Hamas’s reply, Netanyahu has become surrounded by nightmarish and embarrassing scenarios from which he must choose one, and every one of them would cause him a problem.

READ: Fatah, Hamas ready to establish National Unity Government, official says

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.