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Netanyahu adviser says Israel accepts Biden’s Gaza plan

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Israelis protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Saturday. They want him to say yes to the proposal that Joe Biden has put forward. One of Netanyahu’s advisers says that Israel has already agreed, but without complying with its main demands: Hamas must be destroyed and the hostages released. Photo: Maya Alleruzzo / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 03.06.2024 04:43:03

Policy: He refers to the proposal that US President Joe Biden is now trying to get through, and which he presented before the weekend as an Israeli proposal.

Ophir Falk, who is one of Netanyahu’s foreign policy advisers, believes, however, that the proposal has many shortcomings and that far more work is needed before it is in the box.

– There are lots of details that need to be worked out, he says in an interview with the Sunday Times.

– It is not a good deal, but we really want to get the hostages released, all of them, he says.

He states that Israel has agreed to the agreement, but emphasizes that Israel’s conditions are firm: All the hostages must be released and Hamas must be destroyed. He refers to Hamas as “a genocidal terrorist organization”.

In the conversation with Gantz, Blinken emphasized that “Hamas should take the agreement without waiting”, says a statement from the US Foreign Ministry.

In a separate statement about the conversation with Gallant, it is said that Blinken “praised Israel’s willingness to enter into an agreement” and “underscored that the proposal advances Israel’s long-term security interests, including by enabling further integration in the region”.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid has offered Netanyahu political support if the government enters into an agreement.

The first phase of the plan is to last six weeks and include what Biden referred to as a full and complete ceasefire. In addition, it includes the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza, the release of a number of hostages, including women, the elderly and the wounded, in exchange for the release of several hundred Palestinian prisoners.

In phase two, the parties will negotiate further, hostages will be released and Israeli forces will be withdrawn. A comprehensive plan for the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip will then be presented in phase three.

Throughout the weekend, the signals from the Israeli side have been mixed. Two of Netanyahu’s far-right ministers are threatening to topple the government if it agrees to end the war before Hamas is defeated, while Netanyahu himself said on Saturday that a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip was out of the question until the conditions he has set for ending the war is met.

At the same time, the attacks against the Gaza Strip continued over the weekend, including against Rafah, Gaza City and Deir al-Balah.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the proposal with Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and also with Benny Gantz, a former defense minister who joined Netanyahu’s war cabinet.

Biden said in a speech at the White House on Friday that Israel has submitted a proposal for a comprehensive ceasefire agreement on the Gaza Strip. Hamas itself later stated that it views the proposal positively.

(© NTB)

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