US Gaza plan ‘not a good deal’ but Israel accepts it, says Netanyahu aide

An aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed on Sunday that Israel had accepted a Gaza ceasefire proposed by US President Biden, though he described it as “not a good deal”. The plan faces fierce opposition from the Israeli far-right.

Speaking in an interview with UK media, Ophir Falk, chief foreign policy advisor to Netanyahu, says US President Joe Biden’s proposed three-phase plan to ending the war in Gaza is “a deal we agreed to — it’s not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them”.

Falk was speaking to UK newspaper The Sunday Times.

Israel’s conditions, including “the release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas as a genocidal terrorist organisation” have not changed, he added. He went on to say many details of the plan still need to be worked out.

The plan still faces ardent opposition from the Israeli hard-right. Two ministers – finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – said they were opposed to striking any deal before Hamas was destroyed.

Both ministers have threatened to quit and collapse Israel’s governing coalition if Netanyahu accepted the deal.

But President of the State of Israel Isaac Herzog, speaking on X, wrote that he supported the deal. “I want to thank President Biden for his speech and his ongoing efforts to bring about the release of all the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza,” he said.

“I told Prime Minister that I will give him and the government my full support for a deal which will see the release of the hostages.”

PROTESTS IN TEL AVIV

Some anti-government protesters in Tel Aviv have been arrested after scuffles broke out between police and demonstrators demanding the resignation of the Israeli government.

Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday to demand the Israeli government reach a deal to release the hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza.

They also called for fresh elections and for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down.

On Saturday, Netanyahu called a permanent ceasefire in Gaza a “non-starter” until long-standing Israeli conditions for the ending the war are met.

People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and call for the release of hostages held in Gaza, June 1, 2024
People protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and call for the release of hostages held in Gaza, June 1, 2024Maya Alleruzzo/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved

That statement appeared to undermine a proposal that US President Joe Biden had announced as an Israeli one on Friday.

Biden referred to the three-phases proposal as a “truly decisive moment”.

He said the first phase of the proposed deal would last for six weeks and would include a “full and complete ceasefire”, a withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

The second phase would include the release of all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, and Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza.

And the third phase calls for the start of a major reconstruction of Gaza, which faces decades of rebuilding from the devastation caused by the war.

Hamas released a statement reacting positively to the deal, saying it was ready to engage “in a constructive manner” with any proposal based on a permanent end to the fighting.

While Biden acknowledged keeping the proposal on track would be difficult, Netanyahu’s comments on Saturday suggest the deal could be dead in the water before anything has been agreed.

Displaced Palestinians inspect their tents destroyed by an Israeli strike west of Rafah, May 28, 2024
Displaced Palestinians inspect their tents destroyed by an Israeli strike west of Rafah, May 28, 2024Jehad Alshrafi/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

In a joint statement, Qatar, Egypt and the US all called on Hamas and Israel to finalise an agreement that embodies the principles outlined by Biden on Friday.

Meanwhile, smoke was seen rising from the direction of Rafah in southern Gaza on Saturday as the Israeli offensive in the besieged territory continues.

The city located near the border with Egypt was home of hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians forced to flee again after the Israel army launched new operations earlier in May.

The World Health Organization said on Saturday that there are almost no health services remaining in Gaza’s southernmost city.

The UN estimates around 900,000 people have fled Rafah to seek safer areas elsewhere in Gaza.

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Categories: Israel, Palestine, Politics
Anton Nieuwenhuizen

Written by:Anton Nieuwenhuizen All posts by the author

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