Netanyahu is conflicted about the ceasefire

Last Updated on June 12, 2024 4:10 pm

United States President Joe Biden’s proposal for a Palestinian ceasefire in Gaza has been passed by the UN Security Council. Out of 15 members, 14 voted in favor of the proposal. Only Russia abstained from voting.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken went to Israel to plan how the ceasefire would look like. It is said that he will also hold talks with important people of Israel’s opposition.

His visit is to confirm the eight-month ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian independence movement Hamas.

Blinken is visiting the Middle East at a time when there is a ‘deadlock’ over a Palestinian ceasefire in Gaza. Negotiations to end the Gaza war and release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages are already in a critical state.

Two of his ministers have warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against accepting any ceasefire offer. Netanyahu is under pressure in such a situation.

The situation became more complicated after the resignation of Benny Gantz from Netanyahu’s war cabinet. Last Sunday, he resigned along with his political ally Gadi Eisenkot. Both of them are retired army generals. They led the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as Chiefs of Staff.

The US felt comfortable communicating with Netanyahu’s cabinet through Gantz. Now Gantz has returned to the opposition and is demanding early elections. Polling agencies are putting him ahead as the next prime minister of Israel.

A US draft has been issued in support of a six-week ceasefire plan, under which Israel would withdraw troops from Gaza camps and release hostages taken during the October 7 attack inside Israel by Hamas.

Blinken met former army chief Benny Gantz, who resigned from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, and opposition leader Yair Lapid in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

Now Netanyahu has to rely on retaining the support of two staunch nationalist leaders. They are National Security Affairs Minister Itamar Ben-Gavir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

However, Itamar and Bezalel threatened that if Netanyahu agreed to any kind of ceasefire without eliminating Hamas, his government would fall.

Itamar and Bezalel—both staunch Jewish nationalists. They want the war to continue until Hamas is eliminated. They believe that Gaza, like all areas between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, is Jewish territory. And it must be under the control of the Jews. Palestinians should therefore be encouraged to leave Gaza voluntarily.

The United States had previously vetoed three ceasefire proposals at the UN Security Council. But now the Biden administration is eyeing a cease-fire deal.

On May 31, Biden called on Hamas to accept a new ceasefire proposal.

Biden and his advisers know there is a crisis ahead. Hamas insists it will only agree to a deal guaranteeing an end to the war, including the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

In a speech, Biden said, he is calling on Israel’s leadership to support the proposal regardless of any pressure.

Itamar and Bezalel, however, were not slow to press. These two senior ministers of the Netanyahu government opposed Biden’s proposal. They have threatened to throw out the coalition government led by Netanyahu if they agree to the deal.

Netanyahu’s coalition government could be at risk if he listens to US advice. If he loses the new election, he may face a commission of inquiry. He may have to face questions about whether he has political, intelligence and military failures in the October 7 incident.

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