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The victor gets to set the conditions for peace

February 12, 2024 at 6:30 pm

Hamas’ armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades hold a Palestinian flag as they destroy a tank of Israeli forces in Gaza City, Gaza on October 07, 2023. [Hani Alshaer – Anadolu Agency]

When a war comes to its conclusion, the two parties generally sit at the negotiating table, either face to face or through intermediaries, to thrash out the terms of the ceasefire. The victor usually speaks first, setting out their terms and conditions. The vanquished generally has no option but to comply with them for the war to end and to avoid further losses.

Hamas has set out its conditions for a ceasefire on the negotiating table by responding comprehensively to the offer of a deal presented to it after the Paris meeting — the “Framework Agreement” — having made basic and fundamental amendments to the deal which had the effect of turning the response into a counter-proposal. This aims to stop the military operations with a permanent ceasefire; rejects a temporary truce and wants to see complete and sustainable calm. The movement also wants a prisoner exchange between; an end to the siege imposed on Gaza, and for the territory to be reconstructed; the return of residents and displaced people to their homes and districts; and shelter and relief to be provided for all Palestinians in all areas of the Gaza Strip. These conditions are, suggest Hamas, to be put in place in stages. It would like the guarantors of the agreement to be Egypt, Qatar, Turkiye, Russia and the UN.

Hamas is in a good position and is not ready to sign a peace agreement at any price

This response indicates that Hamas is in a good and comfortable position on the battlefield and that it is not ready to sign any agreement for peace at any price. It certainly wants a ceasefire to protect civilians, but it also keeps in mind the extent of the major sacrifices made already by the Palestinian people in Gaza. Hence, the agreement must be at the same level of the sacrifices or more.

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It is also clear that the US has agreed in principle to the resistance movement’s conditions for stopping the war, evidenced by the fact that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the response to the occupation entity to present it to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Predictably, he rejected it and threatened to continue his war and reach Rafah, to where more than a million Palestinians have been displaced. An even more dreadful humanitarian catastrophe now beckons. Netanyahu angered the US, prompting President Joe Biden to say three days ago that “The conduct of the [Israeli] response in Gaza – in the Gaza Strip – has been over the top.”

Biden confirmed that he had spoken to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi — referring to him as the President of “Mexico” — and noted that he asked him to open the Rafah crossing to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, but he refused.

The Zionist entity hasn’t fought Gaza and its proud people on its own; it has been aided and abetted by the US and its Western allies, as well as the Zionist Arab regimes. All have contributed to the killing of children, women, men and the elderly; to the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including homes, hospitals, mosques and churches; and besieging and starving the survivors, , and preventing them from accessing medication and adequate medical care. The hands of all of these international leaders are stained with the blood of the innocent martyrs of Gaza.

Most military and political analysts in the Western world, as well as Israeli military leaders, have agreed that the Zionist entity faces defeat in its war on Gaza, but Netanyahu is arrogant and does not want to admit defeat and withdraw to avoid further losses. He is afraid that if he does so he will be brought to justice and tried for his recklessness and exposing the “invincible” Israel Occupation Forces as weak. He is the reason for Israel’s defeat, the likes of which has not been witnessed since its establishment in 1948. Netanyahu also faces corruption indictments, which are pending, so a spell in prison is likely.

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Among those who predict the defeat of the Zionist entity is an American writer who supports Israel more than most. Thomas L Friedman wrote the reconciliation initiative between the Arab countries and Israel and presented it to the then Saudi Crown Prince, Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, in advance of the Arab Summit held in Beirut in 2002. Israel’s prime minister at the time was Ariel Sharon, who said that the initiative was not worth the paper it was written on before tearing it up in public while expressing his regret for wasting time reading it.

“Israel is losing now on three fronts,” wrote Friedman wrote in an article for the New York Times. “It has lost the narrative war over Gaza: Even though Hamas murdered and raped Israelis [sic], it is Israel that has gotten hauled before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for the civilian casualties it has caused in Gaza while trying to root out Hamas fighters who are embedded among civilians. It is losing the ability to keep Israel safe without being overextended in the long term — by invading Gaza without any plan for how to find a legitimate non-Hamas Palestinian partner to effectively govern there so Israel can pull back. And it is losing on the regional stability front: Israel is now the target of a four-front Iranian onslaught — by Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq — but cannot generate the Arab or NATO allies it needs to win that war, because it refuses to do anything to nurture a credible, legitimate Palestinian partner.”

The Gaza Strip is a very small piece of land, equivalent to around 1.5 per cent of historic Palestine. Despite its superior numbers and weapons, Israel has not been able to achieve its goals. Nor has it been able to weaken the steadfastness, strength and determination of the Palestinians in Gaza, despite the massive destruction and the killing and wounding of 100,000 people. It has not eliminated Hamas, which was the primary goal of the war, and the resistance movement still holds Israeli hostages, whose release is a stated priority of the apartheid state.

Tiny Gaza has been the focus of the whole world over the past four months, outdoing the Russia-Ukraine war in mainstream and social media coverage. Its people are heroes in every sense of the word. They have exhibited best of human characteristics in the midst of unimaginable horrors perpetrated by Israeli monsters. Their heroics will go down in history written in letters of gold.

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