DC Edit | Sliver of hope in Israeli proposal

A very thin sliver of hope of negotiating at least a temporary stop to the fighting in Gaza has been sighted in an Israeli offer to suspend the war for two months subject to Hamas releasing the remaining 136 hostages. Proposed through Qatari and Egyptian channels, the offer also includes withdrawal of Israeli forces from the main cities of the Gaza Strip and the gradual return of Palestinians to north Gaza.

It could be a great development leading on to a more durable peace if Hamas takes the offer, however complicated prisoner swap for hostages may sound as Israel has about 6,000 Palestinians in custody. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is himself under great pressure from the kin of hostages to get them freed after they have been forced into captivity in Gaza since October 7, 2023.

The war on Gaza, taken now to the reckless extent of beginning attacks or laying a siege to hospitals, might still be the only chance of Mr Netanyahu’s survival as Prime Minister. The Israeli forces lost 24 soldiers in the deadliest day of fighting in Gaza on Tuesday, increasing the toll to 200-plus and bringing greater pressure on Mr Netanyahu. And yet, any poll in peace time might see his far-right wing government lose power as their coalition, sticking together more now because of the war, could come undone, if popularity polls are any indication.

The suspension of the war for any length of time should be welcomed as it might just open up an opportunity for world powers to put the squeeze on Mr Netanyahu and try and take the two-state principle forward. He is right now the biggest stumbling block to pursuing the logical principle of an independent Palestinian state juxtaposing Israel and fulfilling the great aspirations of the Palestinians who are not free from Israeli security diktats even in the West Bank where the Palestinian Authority is nominally the ruler.

It is apparent that despite the pounding of Gaza and the starvation of its people plus a death toll past the 25,000-mark, Israel’s objective of wiping out the military capabilities of Hamas is far from fulfilled. It would be in the interest of all to put an end to the war and pursue peace through a two-state solution, however fragile peace could be given Hamas’ thirst for terror strikes and its commitment to destroying Israel.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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