Netanyahu’s lethal intention of ‘total victory’ over Hamas | EUROtoday

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The United States’ prime diplomat returned residence from his fifth wartime journey to the Middle East with a digital slap within the face from Israel’s chief. After conducting a diplomatic blitz by way of Arab capitals, Secretary of State Antony Blinken took a brand new set of proposals outlining a attainable truce between Israel and Hamas and the discharge of Israeli hostages in Gaza to Tel Aviv. Blinken additionally relayed his “profound concerns” to Israeli officers concerning the toll exacted by their conflict on militant group Hamas, following the Palestinian faction’s Oct. 7 terrorist strike on southern Israel. Since then, not less than 27,708 folks have been killed in Gaza — the bulk girls and kids — and 67,147 injured, based on native well being authorities.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telegraphed his opposition to a deal all through the week and outright rejected it Wednesday, casting Hamas’s calls for as “delusional” and vowing to press forward with Israel’s army offensives in Gaza. Blinken advised reporters that there remained “space to continue to pursue an agreement … and we’re intent on pursuing it.” But Netanyahu made clear his priorities, claiming that “total victory” over Hamas was “within touching distance” and promised the “eternal disarmament of Gaza.”

When requested by a reporter to additional clarify what “total victory” meant within the present context, Netanyahu invoked a chilling metaphor, citing how one smashes glass “into small pieces, and then you continue to smash it into even smaller pieces and you continue hitting them.”

Israel has already carried out a whole lot of smashing. Israeli airstrikes and floor offensives leveled a lot of the densely packed Gaza Strip, made near 90 % of the inhabitants homeless and triggered a sprawling, unprecedented humanitarian disaster. “If [Palestinian civilians] aren’t killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men will be at risk of dying by starvation or disease,” stated Bob Kitchen, vp of emergencies on the International Rescue Committee, in an announcement this week. “There will no longer be a single ‘safe’ area for Palestinians to go to as their homes, markets, and health services have been annihilated.”

That could also be by design. “Israeli officials and ambassadors have themselves compared the air campaign to the bombing of Dresden,” journalist Tom Stevenson famous in a trenchant evaluation. “The scale of the killing, extraordinary as it is, has been exceeded by the systematic destruction of civilian infrastructure.”

Netanyahu clings precariously to energy with hostage deal within the steadiness

Protesters on the March for Gaza in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 13 known as for a cease-fire in Gaza and an finish to the U.S.’s help for Israel. (Video: Hadley Green, Whitney Shefte/The Washington Post)

Yet Hamas stays entrenched. Its tunnel networks are in all probability too huge and sophisticated for Israel to totally destroy. And a possible Israeli push towards the final main redoubt at Rafah, on the southern border with Egypt, jeopardizes greater than 1 million Gazan refugees who’ve been pushed there over the course of the continued conflict.

Other outstanding Israeli officers are extra sanguine concerning the strategic complexities of the second. In an interview on Israeli tv final month, Gadi Eisenkot, a former commander of the Israel Defense Forces who’s a part of Netanyahu’s conflict cupboard, agreed that Hamas’s capabilities had been considerably degraded within the north of the Gaza Strip however careworn that “whoever speaks of the absolute defeat [of Hamas in Gaza] and of it no longer having the will or the capability [to harm Israel]is not speaking the truth.”

It was an apparent jab at Netanyahu, for whom Eisenkot has little affection. The former Israeli commander has misplaced each a son and a nephew within the combating in Gaza and accused Netanyahu this week of dithering and avoiding the mandatory deliberations about what postwar Gaza ought to appear like. “With the prime minister taking his time and not making decisions on the important issues, Hamas is restoring some of its capabilities, returning to the north of the Gaza Strip, and taking over the humanitarian aid,” Eisenkot advised colleagues in his political celebration, based on an Israeli information report.

Netanyahu can also be combating for his political future. Pandering, as ever, to a right-wing base, he has rejected U.S. and Arab proposals concerning the Palestinian Authority taking up the administration of Gaza. And he has carried out little to subdue far-right allies in his camp calling for the de facto ethnic cleaning of Gaza, in addition to its attainable resettlement by Israeli settlers.

Speculation is rife that Netanyahu is hoping to make use of the conflict to cling on to energy till the U.S. presidential election, which may see former president Donald Trump, a better good friend than President Biden, return to workplace. Within Israel, although, there are mounting requires his ouster and recent elections.

“Polls show him winning only 16 percent of the vote in the event of new elections, with about a third of his Likud base having turned on the party,” my colleagues Loveday Morris and Shira Rubin reported. This leaves him “completely dependent” on far-right members of his authorities, they added.

“Netanyahu reads the polls. He knows that a majority of the Israeli public still believes in total victory over Hamas. He’s sticking faithfully to the public’s sentiment on that,” an Israeli authorities minister advised Haaretz journalist Anshel Pfeffer this week. “His problem is that he refuses to read something else that’s clear from the polls: that the public doesn’t want to hear from him any longer. Even though he’s saying the things they want to hear.”

Biden finds that ‘forever wars’ are exhausting to give up

In a Feb. 7 handle, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’s cease-fire proposal after assembly with Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Video: Reuters)

There are more durable conversations that many Israelis, Netanyahu’s supporters and opponents alike, don’t wish to hear. In the rubble of Gaza, U.S., European and Arab officers all see the necessity for the restoration of a political course of between Israel and the Palestinians. Netanyahu spent a lot of his profession intentionally working towards the prospect of a two-state answer, encouraging divisions throughout the Palestinian nationwide motion whereas persuading the Israeli public and interlocutors elsewhere that the battle might be “managed” indefinitely.

This labored for a very long time: For years, the United States and different European nations barely lifted a finger to verify the regular enlargement of unlawful Jewish settlements within the occupied West Bank. Flare-ups between Palestinian armed factions and Israel would result in periodic workouts in “mowing the grass” — disproportionate Israeli campaigns towards teams like Hamas that inflicted appreciable civilian hurt, put a quick lid on the militant risk and achieved little else. The absence of equal rights for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians was no obstacle to the normalization offers brokered by the Trump administration between Israel and a clutch of Arab monarchies. In September, Netanyahu trumpeted the arrival of a “new” Middle East, waving a map of a more-integrated area on the dais of the U.N. General Assembly the place Palestine merely didn’t exist.

But within the wake of Oct. 7 and the ruinous Israel-Hamas conflict, the necessity for an enduring answer is on the entrance burner. Arab leaders, together with the influential Saudis, now say a path to Palestinian statehood is a prerequisite for any engagement in a postwar state of affairs in Gaza. Some U.S. lawmakers concur. There are ideas {that a} pissed off Biden administration may formally acknowledge a Palestinian state, even when, as an entity, it stays extra theoretical than actual.

That’s a tricky promote to current-day Israelis, most of whom would favor the established order over any additional concessions to Palestinians. But the established order, warn some Israeli analysts, is untenable. “With or without Netanyahu, ‘conflict management’ and ‘mowing the grass’ will remain state policy — which means more occupation, settlements, and displacement,” Aluf Benn wrote in Foreign Affairs. “This strategy might appear to be the least risky option, at least for an Israeli public scarred by the horrors of October 7 and deaf to new suggestions of peace. But it will only lead to more catastrophe.”