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Netanyahu Sets Preconditions for Peace in Gaza Amid Growing International Calls for a Ceasefire

Published December 27, 2023
7 months ago

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented a stringent trifecta of prerequisites he believes essential for establishing peace in Gaza, a stance outlined emphatically in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. His demands include the obliteration of Hamas, strict demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, and initiating a comprehensive process of deradicalizing Palestinian society. Netanyahu's position arrives at a critical juncture marked by escalating violence and mounting international cries for a cessation of hostilities.

In his op-ed, Netanyahu holds firm on the notion that only through the dismantling of Hamas—labeled a terrorist organization by the United States—can the cycle of bloodshed be broken. Citing the harrowing October 7 attack and the adamant resolve of Hamas leaders to perpetuate their campaign, Netanyahu defends the position that Israel’s retaliatory measures are proportionate and mandatory for the safety and security of its citizens.

Central to Netanyahu's strategy is the demilitarization of Gaza. To achieve this, he envisions Israel maintaining supreme security authority in the area, a contentious point which opposes proposals by U.S. President Joe Biden that the Palestinian Authority might govern Gaza. Netanyahu argues for a temporary security buffer along Gaza's perimeter and stringent controls along the Gaza-Egypt border to prevent arms smuggling.

The deradicalization process, as Netanyahu describes, must penetrate both Palestinian leadership and education systems. Analogous to transformation efforts post-World War II with Germany and Japan, Netanyahu sees the potential for radical change, one that is underpinned by recent Middle East developments, such as the Abraham Accords.

These demands set by Netanyahu assert Israel's readiness to rebuild Gaza and work towards a more comprehensive peace in the Middle East but only under conditions ensuring their security. This approach to peace dovetails with an ongoing debate about Israel's military actions in Gaza, with some critics arguing that despite claims of compliance with international law, Israeli airstrikes have resulted in excessive Palestinian casualties. Netanyahu contests this narrative, attributing civilian fatalities to Hamas's utilization of human shields.

Amidst the backdrop of violence that saw the deaths of approximately 1,200 Israelis in a single attack and more than 20,000 Palestinians since the beginning of Israel's retaliatory offensive, there has been a tangible sense of urgency for a ceasefire. However, Netanyahu's outlined preconditions suggest a complicated path ahead, one requiring significant concessions that may challenge the prevailing international momentum seeking immediate peace.

As the global community, including the Biden administration, intensifies its pressure to quiet the guns in Gaza, Netanyahu's op-ed crystallizes Israel’s stance, laying out a plan that is very much intrinsic to his perspective on what a sustainable peace might look like.

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