To escape from post-war responsibilities and potential removal from power, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected Egypt’s peace proposal this week.
This Monday, Egypt proposed a peace plan to end the war between Israel and Hamas. The proposal includes 3 phases. The first phase includes a humanitarian agreement for seven to ten days, during which Hamas will release all its captured Israeli civilians, including women, children, the sick, and the elderly, in exchange for the release of a significant number of Palestinian prisoners by Israel. In this period of seven to ten days, the followings are required to be agreed mutually:
- A) acceptance of a complete ceasefire in all areas of the Gaza Strip by both sides, the deployment of Israeli forces far from the vicinity of population centers, and allowing the free movement of citizens from south to north, as well as the movement of cars and trucks to Gaza, and Hamas’ commitment that any operation stop against Israel.
- b) Suspension of all forms of Israeli airstrikes, including drones and reconnaissance aircraft, in all areas of the Gaza Strip.
- c) Increasing the arrival of humanitarian and relief aid (medicine, medical equipment, fuel, food) to all areas of the Gaza Strip.
The second phase includes the release of all the Israeli female soldiers detained by Hamas in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons (which is agreed upon by the parties) and also the delivery of all bodies to both sides. This phase is extended for seven days according to the rules and procedures of the first stage.
And in the third phase, negotiations will be held for a month regarding the release of all Israeli soldiers by Hamas in exchange for the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners by Israel as agreed by the parties.
At this phase, both parties will commit to a time limit for negotiations. After reaching the agreement, a complete ceasefire will be announced in the Gaza Strip and Egypt, Qatar and the United States are responsible for coordinating the formation of a non-partisan and political government that will govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank thereafter.
Accepting peace means an end to Bibi’s political life
Since Egypt’s proposal to end the Gaza war includes the establishment of a permanent ceasefire, Netanyahu’s immediate rejection of it was predictable because accepting a permanent ceasefire for Netanyahu while the main goal of his announcement, which is the complete destruction of Hamas, has not yet been achieved, will mean a big political defeat for him.
Also, the acceptance of a permanent ceasefire and the end of the war means the beginning of the audits of the Prime Minister of Israel, and after the war, he who is responsible for the information and security failure of October 7, may even face the risk of dismissal.
Even if Netanyahu survives this, his financial and political corruption case can drag him down from power. Thanks to the Gaza war, attention to Netanyahu’s corruption case has faded in recent weeks, and his trial in court has been postponed for two consecutive times. Accepting a permanent ceasefire and ending the war can therefore be considered a kind of political suicide for Netanyahu.
Opposing voices arise in Israel against Mr. Prime Minister
But now, opposing voices are heard from inside Israel. Israel’s opposition leader Yair Lapid hinted at accepting the ceasefire this Tuesday and announced during a speech in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) that the return of the hostages is a priority over the continuation of the war. Likewise, Ehud Olmert, the former Prime Minister of Israel, clearly stated the same demand the same day and noted that since the destruction of Hamas will not be achieved, “the war with Hamas from now on is Netanyahu’s war, not the Israeli people’s.”
Now we have to wait and see if the pressure of current and former senior officials of Israel will be able to change Netanyahu’s opinion about accepting the ceasefire or not. Of course, Israel’s agreement with Egypt’s proposal is only one side of the story. Hamas and Islamic Jihad also did not agree to all the provisions of this proposal and have declared that they are against the proposals regarding the control of Palestinian territories.
To conclude, it does not seem that Egypt’s ceasefire proposal will go anywhere considering the stance taken by leaders of both sides of the war, which means the war will continue at least for the coming months.