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Biden's "Israeli" Peace Plan Provokes Political Warfare in Israel

What U.S. President Joe Biden announced on May 31 as his so-called “Israeli” peace plan created no little consternation in Israel over the weekend. As with Biden’s push before Israel invaded Rafah, pushing a million or so refugees into more remote and barren areas, the plan deliberately leaves open whether the war will end, allowing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to get some hostages back and then blow up the round 2 negotiations, and simply resuming what he calls his complete extermination of Hamas.

As of Saturday night, both Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of Religious Zionism and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit, had threatened to bring down Netanyahu’s coalition if the cabinet went with Biden’s terms. Their two parties amount to 14 of Netanyahu’s 64-member coalition. (With 120 Knesset members, 61 represent a ruling coalition.) And for at least the third time, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid defused their threat, promising to provide his 20 Yesh Atid Knesset members to keep Netanyahu in office, should Netanyahu accept a hostage-for-truce deal. Lapid said: Israel “must do this deal, now… before the hostages die there” in Gaza. Further, the threats by Ben Gvir and Smotrich “abandon national security, the hostages, and the residents of the north and the south. This is the worst and most reckless government in the country’s history. As far as they’re concerned, there could be war here forever. Zero responsibility, zero management, total failure.”

National Unity party chief and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz is the main horse that Washington is riding. He said: “We are committed to continue advancing an arrangement to return the hostages as was formulated by the negotiation team and unanimously approved by the war cabinet, as part of the wider effort to achieve all of the war’s objectives. In light of the developments, the war cabinet must be convened as soon as possible, together with the negotiating team, to formulate the next steps.” Last night the war cabinet was to meet.

Netanyahu had said earlier on Saturday that there would be no “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza until Hamas’s military and governing capabilities were destroyed. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel that “Israel’s conditions for the end of the war have not changed.” They comprised “destroying Hamas military and civil capabilities, freeing the hostages, and ensuring that Gaza will no longer represent a threat to Israel.” The Israeli proposal, the official insisted, however, would ensure that Israel can achieve all of these conditions before a permanent ceasefire takes effect.

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