Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal Likely to Pave Two-State Solution
The Israeli cabinet giving the go ahead for the hostage release deal comes after weeks of tensions behind the scenes between Israel and the United States. Israel has been facing significant diplomatic pressure for a ceasefire with the death toll in Gaza now over 13,000 Palestinian civilians.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is adamant that Israel’s war against Hamas will continue. “The war will continue. The first goal, the elimination of Hamas, we will not stop until we achieve it. The second objective is the return of the hostages, and we are making progress.” He added the third objective was to prevent a recurrence of events in Gaza and ensuring security in the southern and northern regions.
Yoav Gallant, the Israeli Defense Minister, acknowledged that Israel will be required to make difficult, important decisions in the coming days.
The Hostage Deal
The Israel-Hamas hostage deal will see the release of minimum 53 captives, mostly children and their mothers, with potential of the total number released reaching 80 hostages. 10 hostages will be released every day. There will be a four-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. As part of the deal, Israel will release 150 Palestinian prisoners (mostly women and minors).
The Israeli army will also refrain from flying over the Gaza Strip for six hours each day, during the first days of the truce to allow Hamas to locate the other hostages who are being held by the militant group Islamic Jihad. This agreement also includes the entry of up to 300 trucks of food, medical aid and fuel into the besieged Gaza Strip. Israel is adamant that the IDF military campaign against Hamas will resume as soon as the hostage release phase is completed.
Hamas said provisions of this agreement were formulated according to the vision of the resistance and its determinants that aim to serve their people and enhance their steadfastness in the face of aggression. It added that their militants’ fingers will remain on the trigger and remain on the lookout to defend their people and repel the occupation.
Permanent Ceasefire and Two-State Solution
In recent days, there has been growing international skepticism about Israel’s raid in Al Shifa hospital and the war crimes in Gaza. A British diplomat cited incidents in Srebenica, northern Iraq and Rwanda, saying one has to make sure not to put people into jeopardy by kettling them into a location.
Israeli intelligence highlighting Al Shifa hospital as the Hamas operation base was similar to US’s witch hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Isaac Herzog, Israel president, said they cannot leave a vacuum in Gaza and would require a strong Israeli presence. But the Biden administration has time and again said an Israeli-occupation of Gaza would be a very big mistake.
Senior American officials are hopeful that the Israel-Hamas hostage deal and ceasefire would make way for a permanent ceasefire. A top official said the pause in fighting was a step toward an eventual push for peace. However, skepticism remains as Israel had blundered the last hostage deal and stormed Al Shifa hospital and killed thousands of more civilians.
Pressure is on the US to call out Israel, and look at the bigger picture for regional stability, that is Israeli occupation in Palestine and the two-state solution. The US president has also given his word to ensure that the current deal is carried out through in its entirety.
Now it’s up to Israel to stick to his words and the cabinet vote.