Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected this Wednesday the compensation demanded by Hamas for the handover of the 136 hostages remaining in Gaza: 135 days of ceasefire, release of up to 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, withdrawal of Israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip, the entrance further humanitarian aid, the beginning of the reconstruction of the territory and the indirect negotiation of the final end to the war. His words distance the options for a near-truce. “Surrendering to Hamas’s insane demands would only lead to another massacre,” like the one on October 7th. “There is no solution other than total victory” and this is “within reach,” he said at a press conference in Tel Aviv, emphasizing this “the day after.” [de la guerra] It is the day after Hamas.” “Not from Hamas, but from all of Hamas,” he emphasized. Netanyahu is thus responding to the proposal that the Islamist movement made to the mediating countries. Antony Blinken, who is responsible for the diplomacy of one of these countries, the United States, assured late in the day, after discussing the document with his interlocutors in Israel, that “it contains parts that cannot be adhered to,” but that There is “room to reach an agreement.” Agreement”.
According to a draft of Hamas' counter-proposal seen by Portal, the pact would be implemented in three 45-day phases. In the first step, Hamas would extradite women, men under 19 and over 50, and the sick, in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children at a ratio to be determined later. The Israeli army, which is currently operating intensively in Khan Younis, Gaza's second largest city, and plans to soon enter the third city, Rafah, would have to withdraw from urban areas. Then it would be the turn of the male hostages. Israeli troops would have to leave all parts of the Gaza Strip. This second phase would only begin once the parties had agreed through mediators on “the necessary conditions” for a final end to the war.
A woman holds a sign with photos of the young people murdered by Hamas at the Nova festival on October 7. Ariel Schalit (AP)
Eventually, Hamas would hand over the at least 31 bodies it has in its hands. Some were brought back dead by their militiamen during the October 7 attack, knowing that Israel has paid a price for bringing them back in the past. Others, whose number cannot be determined, would have died in the Israeli bombings themselves or in other ways.
The Lebanese newspaper Al Ajbar provides details, which appear in an appendix, that go beyond the situation in the Gaza Strip. Hamas wants the ceasefire to be guaranteed not only by the current mediators (Qatar, Egypt and the United States), but also by two countries closest to the Palestinians: Turkey and Russia. In addition, it is proposed to restore the esplanade of the Jerusalem Mosque to its pre-2003 state, when Ariel Sharon's government once again – without the green light from the Jordan-dependent foundation that manages the site – allowed the entry of non-Muslim ultra-nationalist Jewish Groups are now taking advantage of this.
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1,500 Palestinian prisoners
In its proposal, the group estimates the number of Palestinian prisoners it hopes to release in exchange as part of this process: 1,500. That's a significantly lower proportion than soldier Gilad Shalit's 2011 exchange of more than a thousand prisoners, but three times higher than the exchange in the last week of November, which involved 80 hostages and 240 prisoners were released. Palestinians. It is not possible to know what proportion the 1,500 would make up of the total, as Israel does not provide official figures. Following the wave of arrests in Gaza and the West Bank following the October 7 attacks, human rights organizations and prisoners estimate the number to be between 9,000 and 10,000. Hamas wants to select a third of the names of those serving life sentences.
According to the Lebanese newspaper, the Islamist movement demands that Gazans have freedom of movement between different parts of the Gaza Strip during the ceasefire and that the sick and wounded be able to leave through the Rafah border crossing to receive treatment in Egypt. Also the construction of temporary shelters and large camps for displaced people with tents, to the extent of 50,000 per week; that Israel is committed to restoring electricity and water supplies (as required by international law), and that those released include Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.
It is Hamas' counter-proposal to the document that the mediators and the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad forged in Paris two weeks ago. Blinken received it this Tuesday in Doha (Qatar, another mediator country) and analyzed it this Wednesday in Jerusalem with Netanyahu. American President Joe Biden described it as “a little exaggerated” last night and Blinken admitted this Wednesday in Jerusalem that “there is still a lot to do.” Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani called it “positive” without going into details.
Antony Blinken and Benjamin Netanyahu greet each other before their meeting this Wednesday in Jerusalem. GPO/Amos Ben Gershom HANDOUT (EFE)
Netanyahu rejects ending the war in exchange for the return of the hostages, saying it would mean achieving only one of the three objectives of the war he launched after Hamas' massive attack on October 7, which left more than 27,000 dead People lost their lives (mostly women and minors) sparked a humanitarian crisis and left entire areas in ruins. The other two goals are to “destroy Hamas both politically (it has ruled Gaza since 2007) and militarily.” and “to ensure that Gaza does not pose a new threat.” For days he has been repeating two ideas: “We will not withdraw the army and we will not release thousands of terrorists.” […] None of this will happen. What will happen? “Absolute victory!” he said on January 30th.
The matter threatens the stability of the Israeli government at a time when calls for early elections are growing and relatives of the hostages and parts of the political circle are pushing for a second exchange. 38% of the population want them detained “when the war is over,” and 33% immediately in three months, the legal minimum to organize them if they were called up today, according to the latest Voice of Israel Index, which was published in the poll Tuesday by the Israeli Institute for Democracy think tank.
Netanyahu's far-right allies are threatening to quit the executive branch if the exchange goes through on the terms under which it is being examined. On the contrary: the opposition is urging Netanyahu to bet on the exchange. Those who joined the concentration government created specifically for the war did so from within. And from the outside, former Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who day after day offers Netanyahu a “safety net” without conditions for carrying out the exchange, be it by joining the coalition to compensate for the departure of the extreme right, or or with their votes in the Houses of Parliament.
Palestinian children observe the houses and vehicles destroyed by an Israeli bombardment in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, this Wednesday. Mohammed Talatene (dpa/picture Alliance/Getty)
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