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Friday, July 19, 2024

Netanyahu insists on ‘elimination of Hamas’s capabilities’ after Gaza peace plan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that the raging war in Gaza won’t end until the “elimination of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities” and release of the remaining hostages.

In Short

  • Netanyahu insists transition of stages in peace plan was ‘conditional’
  • Gaza war won’t end until elimination of Hamas capabilities, he says
  • US leaders invite Netanyahu to address joint session of Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted that the transition of stages in the Jewish state’s proposed three-phase deal to the Hamas militants was “conditional”. He noted that the raging war in Gaza won’t end until the “elimination of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities” and release of the remaining hostages.

In a statement late Friday night, Netanyahu’s office said, “The Prime Minister authorised the negotiating team to present an outline for achieving (the return of hostages), while insisting that the war will not end until all of its goals are achieved.”

The goals include “the return of all our hostages and the elimination of Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities”, AFP news agency quoted the statement as saying.

“The exact outline proposed by Israel, including the conditional transition from stage to stage, allows Israel to maintain these principles.”

The three-phase Israeli proposal, which, according to US officials, has been sent to the Hamas militants, calls for a ceasefire; the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners; and the reconstruction of Gaza.

While announcing the deal, President Biden said on Friday that the first phase involves a six-week ceasefire when Israeli forces would withdraw from “all populated areas” of Gaza, while some hostages, including the elderly and women, would be freed in exchange for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

In this phase, Palestinian civilians will also be allowed to return to their homes in Gaza and 600 trucks a day would bring humanitarian aid into the devastated enclave.

Biden said Hamas and Israel would negotiate a permanent ceasefire that would last “as long has Hamas lives up to its commitments”. If negotiations took more than six weeks, the temporary ceasefire would extend while they continued.

In the second phase, the President said there would be an exchange for all remaining living hostages, including male soldiers, Israeli forces would withdraw from Gaza and the permanent ceasefire would begin.

The third phase would include a major reconstruction plan for Gaza and the return of the “final remains” of hostages to their families, he added.

Meanwhile, Hamas has reacted “positively” to the Israeli proposal, saying it was ready to engage “in a constructive manner”.

The latest developments come amid Israel’s ongoing ground offensive in Rafah, the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

The offensive launched on May 6 has further intensified, with the military deploying soldiers in the city centre where they uncovered rocket launchers and tunnel shafts and dismantled a Hamas weapons storage facility, AFP news agency reported.

NETANYAHU RECEIVES INVITATION TO ADDRESS US CONGRESS

Leaders of the US Senate and House of Representatives have extended an invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joing session of Congress.

The invitation on Friday was signed by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries. There was no date mentioned for Netanyahu’s address.

“To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combating terror, and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,” Reuters news agency quoted the letter as saying.

Netanyahu has already addressed three such joint sessions of the US Congress, with the last one in 2015.

If he accepts the current invitation, it would make him the first foreign leader to address joint session for a record four times.

He is currently tied at three with late British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

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