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Israel & Palestine

Netanyahu Says Peace Depends on Hamas’ End, Demilitarized Gaza

user avatar Author: Editors Desk Source: Bloomberg
December 26, 2023 at 07:11
Benjamin Netanyahu Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg
Benjamin Netanyahu Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg

Comments come amid rising criticism of the war in Gaza

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outlined three prerequisites to achieving peace in its war with Hamas: the destruction of the group, the demilitarization of Gaza and for Palestinian society to be “deradicalized.”

The comments, made in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal published Monday, come amid rising pressure on Israel to scale back the conflict in Gaza, which began following Hamas’s Oct. 7 assault on southern Israeli communities that killed 1,200 people — with Hamas militants kidnapping scores of Israelis.

“In destroying Hamas, Israel will continue to act in full compliance with international law,” Netanyahu wrote, saying that eliminating Hamas “is the only proportional response to prevent the repeat of such horrific atrocities.”

Israeli Airstrikes in Southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians search a building destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Dec. 20.Photographer: Ahmad Salem/Bloomberg

More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. Much of the Palestinian enclave has been flattened by Israeli airstrikes and the UN has said the humanitarian situation is dire.

The US has continued to back Israel’s right to defend itself, vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution earlier this month that called for a cease-fire. But President Joe Biden and his top officials have increasingly pressed Israel to change its approach to the war against Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

Netanyahu has repeatedly said the war will last for as long as it takes to destroy Hamas. He and his cabinet have put no timeline on the intense period of fighting, or the wider war itself.

In the op-ed, the prime minister said his government must ensure Gaza is never again used as a base to attack Israel. This would require “establishing a temporary security zone on the perimeter of Gaza and an inspection mechanism on the border between Gaza and Egypt that meets Israel’s security needs and prevents smuggling of weapons into the territory,” he wrote.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Israel’s campaign needs to shift from large-scale attacks to more precise operations to reduce the toll on Palestinian civilians.

Minister of Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, a confidant of Netanyahu and former ambassador to the US, is expected in Washington on Tuesday for talks with White House and State Department officials about Israel’s plans for eventually scaling down the war, Axios reported, citing Israeli and American officials it did not name.

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