Netanyahu Says Conditions ‘Not Changed’ After Joe Biden Peace Proposal | NEWSWEEK

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Netanyahu Says Conditions ‘Not Changed’ After Joe Biden Peace Proposal | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Brendan Cole Senior News Reporter for NEWSWEEK | Published Jun 01, 2024 at 8:19 AM EDT.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country still intends to destroy Palestinian militant group Hamas in comments that follow President Joe Biden‘s ceasefire proposal.

Biden suggested on Friday a three-phase plan which included a six-week ceasefire, an Israeli withdrawal from parts of Gaza, the exchange of hostages taken by Hamas with Palestinian prisoners, as well as aid deliveries,

On Friday, Israel said its troops were operating in central parts of Rafah amid condemnation of a ground assault which has seen a million people flee the city and growing concern about the viability of humanitarian operations there. One aid worker who has just left Rafah told Newsweek “nowhere is safe.”

On Saturday, the Prime Minister’s Office posted on X that Israel’s “conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are met before a permanent ceasefire is put in place,” said the statement, according to a translation. “The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

Ceasefire talks ended in stalemate in early May after the U.S. and mediators tried to secure a deal to avert a full Israeli invasion of Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, which Israel says is needed to uproot Hamas—the group’s October 7 attacks preceded the war.

But Biden said on Friday that the first phase would include a “full and complete ceasefire,” the withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces (IDF) forces from populated areas and a swap of hostage for prisoner swap.

Hamas has said it views the proposal “positively,” but there is no guarantee that a deal will be reached. Fighting has continued in Rafah, with reports of Israeli airstrikes on Saturday in the city.

The humanitarian group Mercy Corps has staff across Gaza. One worker who wanted to use the alias Osama, described the situation in Rafah, where he had fled from on Wednesday, as “so horrible.”

He fled to the humanitarian zone of Al-Mawasi after “a very horrifying night” in which there were “indiscriminate tank shelling, massive airstrikes, and continuous exchange of gunfire.”

“Although I was located at the western side of Rafah, we could hear and see the explosions loud and clear, we smelled heavily the gunpowder,” he said in texts shared via WhatsApp, with internet coverage too patchy for an audio call.

“The living conditions at Al-Mawasi are unimaginable. I couldn’t believe that it would be inhumane to that level. People are scattered in tents without even minimum living standards, scarce water, very high temperature and so crowded.”

Netanyahu’s far-right allies who have previously threatened to quit the governing coalition are likely to oppose Biden’s proposal but one of Israel’s most influential opposition politicians, Yair Lapid, said he would back Netanyahu if he supports the ceasefire deal.

“The Israeli government cannot ignore President Biden’s significant speech,” Lapid posted on X, according to a translation. “There is a deal on the table and it needs to be done.”

Former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed told Newsweek that Biden had made two claims about Hamas but did not qualify them by laying out how they would be implemented.

“First, he repeated his call for Hamas’ rule in Gaza to come to an end but did not explain how that would come to fruition in a world where Hamas is left standing after the war with the seat at the negotiating table,” he said.

“Secondly, he assured that this deal would not allow Hamas to rearm itself, but failed to present a viable reason it would not be able to do so.”

Melamed said that Biden said that the six weeks of the first phase would be extended while negotiations continue without defining how this would differ from a stalemate.

“As long as Israel’s military pressure card is removed, Hamas has no gain from expediting or compromising on its negotiating position,” he said, “Biden, and likely Netanyahu as well, are likely going to need to define both of these points.”


Netanyahu Says Conditions ‘Not Changed’ After Joe Biden Peace Proposal | Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in this article by Brendan Cole Senior News Reporter for NEWSWEEK

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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