Netanyahu's Stance Risks Israel's Ties with the U.S. amid Escalating Israel-Hamas Tensions

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that he would only be willing to agree to a "partial" cease-fire deal that would not end the war, which has caused a huge uproar from the families of Hamas hostages. Netanyahu said on a conservative, pro-Netanyahu TV station late Sunday that he was "prepared to make a partial deal—this is not a secret—that will return to us some of the people." He was talking about the 120 hostages who are still being held in the Gaza Strip. "We are determined to keep fighting after a break so that we can win the war and get rid of Hamas," he said.

Netanyahu's words about his terms for a deal were mostly the same as what he has said before. But they come at a bad time because Israel and Hamas seem to be getting farther apart over the latest cease-fire plan. His comments could make Israel's relationship with its closest friend, the U.S., even worse. The U.S. led a big international push for the new cease-fire plan, which would free the surviving prisoners in return for hundreds of Palestinians who are being held by Israel.

Hamas has said that it will not free the remaining hostages until there is a final end to the fighting and all Israeli troops leave Gaza. Biden said that both were in the current plan when he announced it last month. But Netanyahu says Israel is still determined to destroy Hamas' military and government power and make sure it can never again attack like it did on October 7. If Israel pulled all of its troops out of Gaza, where Hamas's top leaders and most of its forces are still present, the group would almost certainly still be in charge and able to re-arm.

The first six weeks are for both sides to work out a deal on the second part, which Biden said would include freeing all surviving prisoners, including male troops, and Israel leaving Gaza completely. The short-term cease-fire would last forever. If Israel gives back its most vulnerable inmates, Hamas seems to be afraid that the war will start up again. Even if it doesn't, Israel could make demands at that point in the talks that were not in the original deal and that Hamas can not agree to. If Hamas refuses, the war could start up again.

Both Netanyahu and Hamas have reasons to keep the terrible war going, even though it has killed a lot of civilians in Gaza and made more people in Israel angry that after months of trying, Israel still has not been able to return the prisoners or beat Hamas.


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