Thursday, May 23, 2024

Israel Faces Global Censure as Hamas Rebuffs Truce Efforts

HomeWARIsrael Faces Global Censure as Hamas Rebuffs Truce Efforts

GAZA CITY – Nearly seven months after Hamas militants launched a devastating attack into Israel, sparking a bloody war, the Palestinian militant group is digging in its heels against proposed ceasefire deals brokered by international mediators.

On Tuesday, Hamas officials rejected the latest ceasefire proposal from Israel, saying it did not meet the group’s demands or those of other Palestinian factions. The rejection prolongs a conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and caused widespread devastation in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

“The movement is interested in reaching an agreement that puts an end to the aggression on our people,” a Hamas statement said. “Despite that, the Israeli position remains intransigent and it didn’t meet any of the demands of our people and our resistance.”

The statement exemplified Hamas’ emboldened negotiating position despite its dramatically weakened military capabilities after over half a year of punishing Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages. The group says it wants any deal to include an end to Israeli military operations, a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, and permission for displaced Palestinians to return home.

Frustrations Mount Over Stalled Talks

Bids to secure a lasting truce have taken on increasing urgency in recent weeks as the death toll mounts and international pressures intensify. A high-level delegation including CIA Director William Burns traveled to Egypt over the weekend for ceasefire talks that also involved Qatari and Egyptian mediators.

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Burns’ presence underscored growing frustrations from the United States, Israel’s closest ally, over the stalled negotiations. Relations between the two countries have frayed badly during the Gaza war, with the Biden administration voicing exasperation over civilian casualties from Israeli strikes, even as it continues backing Israel’s right to self-defense.

“The frustration is really at the core of the president’s message” to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, White House spokesman John Kirby said, referring to a phone call in which President Biden urged Netanyahu to revive ceasefire efforts.

Civilian Suffering Amplifies Pressure

The immense civilian suffering in Gaza – where over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since October, according to Hamas’ count – has amplified pressure on both sides to strike a deal. Entire neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble, hospitals have been repeatedly struck, and basic infrastructure lies in ruins after months of intense bombardment.

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But international focus has remained squarely on Israel, not the Palestinian militants whose rocket barrages triggered the war. Aside from broad condemnations of Hamas’ tactics, little concrete pressure has been exerted on the group or its backers in Qatar to accept a ceasefire.

In a joint opinion piece published Monday in Western newspapers, the leaders of Jordan, France and Egypt called for a revival of peace talks toward a two-state solution with an independent Palestine. They declared it “the only credible path to guaranteeing peace and security for all.”

Yet there was no mention of pressing Hamas to end its hard-line positions preventing a ceasefire that could alleviate Palestinian suffering.

Qatar, Hamas’ Chief Patron, Feels Little Heat

Similarly, Qatar – the Persian Gulf state that has hosted Hamas leaders and funneled millions to the group in recent years in defiance of counter-terrorism efforts – has faced few real consequences from the United States and other nations over its nurturing of the militant faction.

“Where is the international pressure on Hamas? Where is the pressure on Qatar?” asked an editorial this week in the Jerusalem Post, accusing world powers of piling pressure solely on Israel despite Hamas’ clear culpability for the crisis.

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For its part, Israel says its main priority in ceasefire negotiations remains securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, including two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers killed in a previous Gaza conflict. But it has signaled flexibility on Palestinian demands for an easing of the crippling blockade on Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt since Hamas seized power in 2007.

Analysts say neither side has any real incentive to end the fighting for now. Hamas can cling to hardline positions while Qatar’s cash flows continue unimpeded. And Israel’s880can pursue its military campaign, content to weaken Hamas’ arsenal with little political cost after surviving tensions with Washington over civilian casualties.

But with no diplomatic solution in sight, the mounting death toll and destruction inevitably will keep intensifying international pressure to halt hostilities – pressures that so far have fallen disproportionately on Israel rather than Hamas and its uncompromising patrons.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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