Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote an editorial on Monday outlining three preconditions for peace in the region: the destruction of Hamas, the demilitarization of Gaza and the beginning of a process of deradicalization of Palestinian society.
In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu said that once these three conditions are met, “Gaza can be rebuilt and the prospects for broader peace in the Middle East will become a reality.”
Netanyahu has expressed support for these positions in the past, but by laying out his concrete position in a major US media outlet, Netanyahu is clearly laying out Israel’s starting position as international pressure mounts to find a path to peace.
The Biden administration, while supporting Israel, has also sent signals that it wants to see an end to the fighting amid internal and external pressure.
In advocating the destruction of Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, Netanyahu notes that Hamas leaders have pledged to repeat the brutal October 7 attack “again and again,” writing: “It is why their destruction is the only proportional response to prevent a repeat of these horrific atrocities. Anything less guarantees more war and more bloodshed. »
Netanyahu pledged to “continue to act in full respect of international law” to destroy Hamas, but he stressed the difficulty of doing so, saying Hamas frequently uses “Palestinian civilians as human shields.” Netanyahu stressed that Israel was trying to minimize civilian casualties, describing the means by which it achieves this.
“Unfairly blaming Israel for these victims will only encourage Hamas and other terrorist organizations around the world to use human shields. To render this cruel and cynical strategy ineffective, the international community must blame Hamas for these victims,” Netanyahu wrote.
Israel has faced widespread criticism for the type of bombs it has dropped on Gaza, with some saying it could do much more to limit civilian casualties.
In demilitarizing Gaza, Netanyahu said Israel should retain “primary responsibility for security in Gaza” and rejected the possibility of the Palestinian Authority (PA) overseeing the territory. President Biden, for his part, said the Palestinian Authority could govern Gaza.
Netanyahu said this “will require the establishment of a temporary security zone on the Gaza perimeter and an inspection mechanism on the Gaza-Egypt border that meets Israel’s security needs and prevents arms smuggling into the territory.
To deradicalize Gaza, Netanyahu argued that change should come from leaders as well as what students learn in schools. He said he believed change was possible, building on recent successes in the Abraham Accords and pointed to post-World War II successes.
“Successful deradicalization took place in Germany and Japan after the Allied victory in World War II. Today, both countries are great allies of the United States and promote peace, stability and prosperity in Europe and Asia,” he wrote.
His editorial comes as calls for a ceasefire are increasing around the world.
Hamas killed around 1,200 Israelis on October 7 in a surprise attack on Israel’s southern border and took around 239 hostages. Since then, about half have been released as part of a series of swaps involving Israel’s release of Palestinian prisoners.
Since Israel began its retaliation with a barrage of airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, more than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to estimates by Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. Much of Gaza has been razed by airstrikes and around a quarter of its population faces “extreme hunger”.
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