Mon 04 Mar 2024 2:04 pm - Jerusalem Time

Media Part: Netanyahu and the futile negotiation strategy

Although a new phase of negotiations on the Gaza ceasefire was scheduled to begin on Sunday in Cairo, Israel postponed the departure of its delegation to Egypt, under the pretext of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) violating the agreed-upon arrangements.

With this introduction, the French website Media Part opened an article by writer René Bachmann in which he tried to determine the reasons for the continued negotiations between Israel and Hamas, through Qatar, Egypt and the United States, so far without tangible results, indicating that the diplomatic climate has deteriorated to the point that the chances of rapid success of the discussions before the beginning of the month of Ramadan remains humble.

Hamas said, “The negotiations are not an open process at the expense of the blood of our people, and if they fail to achieve a ceasefire and release the detainees, Israel will bear the responsibility alone.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his aides also said that the conditions put forward by Hamas were “unacceptable.”

But there are also other, more decisive explanations for the deterioration of the diplomatic climate - as Bachman sees it - related to the political positions or the projects, problems and personal calculations of the Israeli Prime Minister, to the complex and extremist character, the volatility of his parliamentary coalition as well, and to his inability to envision an acceptable and credible post-war phase and prepare. she has.

Short term

These matters are not easy for Netanyahu and his spokesmen to invoke, and he knows better than others that what is at stake now, beyond the fate of the detainees and the outcome of the war, and the transition to the post-war period and the search for a new regional balance, is his political and personal future.

The problem is that “no one can expect such an arrogant, spiteful, manipulative politician to behave properly as a statesman when leaving the stage of power,” because the fate of his people, not to mention the fate of his enemies, is obscured from him during his final choices by his ideological inclinations and his stubborn desire to protect his interests. Personality, according to a former deputy who knows him well.

It appeared during the meetings that took place in Paris that Hamas requested a cessation of fighting for 135 days in 3 phases of 45 days, and the release of 100 living detainees and about 30 bodies, in exchange for Israel releasing part of the 8,000 prisoners in its prisons and the withdrawal of the Israeli army from populated areas. In the first phase of the truce, then complete withdrawal from the entire sector in the third phase.

A former member of the Knesset: No one can expect such an arrogant, spiteful and manipulative politician to behave properly as a statesman when leaving the stage of power, because the fate of his people, not to mention the fate of his enemies, is hidden from him during his final choices by his ideological inclinations and his stubborn desire to protect his personal interests.

It seemed possible to reach an agreement on these proposals - as the writer says - but Netanyahu rejected them in general, and said that he was determined to continue military operations until what he calls “final victory,” which his generals do not know what it means. Is it the elimination of Hamas? Or the destruction of the political and administrative infrastructure? Or the expulsion of the Palestinian population and the return of the occupation, as some partners in the government coalition dream of?

Netanyahu explained that “any ceasefire agreement will not force Israeli forces to withdraw from Gaza before victory,” despite protests from the families of the detainees, and said that military pressure would give him better exchange terms, but he could not hide that he is not in a rush to conclude a deal. an agreement.

Attack on Rafah

Without a credible solution for the immediate post-war period, and unwilling, in the event of the fighting to end, to hold public opinion accountable for the turbulent circumstances under which Hamas was able to organize the October 7 attack, Netanyahu did not give a high degree of priority to concluding an agreement when He addressed the delegation he sent to Paris.

The following negotiations in Cairo, in mid-February, seemed promising and more tense, especially in the presence of Jordanian, Saudi and Emirati delegations, in addition to Palestinian representation, which gave optimism that the discussions would go beyond humanitarian-military bargaining about consolidating the cessation of fighting and releasing detainees, until after a regional peace plan was put forward. Long-term, they want to announce it symbolically before the beginning of Ramadan.

However, “this peaceful intention seemed somewhat unrealistic, and even clearly imaginary,” because Netanyahu, despite the requests of several friendly capitals, continues to reiterate what he constantly repeats, that “neither negotiations nor external pressure will prevent him from launching a ground attack, on Rafah,” according to the writer.

As expected, the negotiations focused on stopping the fighting, releasing detainees, and developing a long-term Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, including the establishment of a Palestinian state.

It is known that Netanyahu has always opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, is radically hostile to the peace process and firmly supports settlement development and simply annexing Palestinian lands. Today, he acts as if the “Abraham Accords” concluded in September 2020 meant normalization between Israel and the Arab world without having to offer the slightest concession to the Palestinians.

So why, under these circumstances, should Netanyahu - as the writer wonders - enter into a deal to exchange detainees for prisoners, and give the Arab countries a means to blackmail concessions that he rejects, and for which his religious allies will make him pay the end of the alliance that allows him to retain power.

Indeed, the post-war plan, which Netanyahu revealed two weeks ago after obtaining the approval of the War Cabinet, confirms that he is still adhering to his principles, and that he does not take into account the suggestions of Washington, the Arab partners, and the recommendations of the international community. Former diplomat Alon Pinkas, who became a political analyst, said “This plan is not workable, and it is not a plan.”

In complete contradiction to the terms of reference accepted since the Oslo Accords, the position of the Israeli Prime Minister de facto prevents a negotiated outcome based on the establishment of the State of Palestine, but his erratic behavior in the war makes his political situation worse, and his popularity has reached an unprecedented level of decline. His Defense Minister threatens to blow up the coalition in protest against his prioritization of his personal political interests rather than the interests of the country.

Source: Mediapart+ Aljazeera


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Media Part: Netanyahu and the futile negotiation strategy