Who wants (and who doesn't) a truce in Gaza

A Hamas delegation has arrived in Cairo to participate in new talks regarding the ceasefire and the release of the hostages, but there is very little time left to stop the offensive on Rafah, with Israel convening its cabinet last night war. The news comes after the jihadist group essentially rejected the latest proposal mediated by Egypt, even though the political leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, during a telephone conversation with the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel, expressed “interest in truce proposal.”

But it must be said here that it is practically impossible to summarize what is happening, given that Hamas, through its officials, continues to issue statements that are denied a few hours later. For the record, it should be noted that an Egyptian source familiar with the negotiations stated: «Several controversial points have been resolved, but the issue of a permanent ceasefire remains. Furthermore, satisfactory solutions were found regarding Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and the return of displaced people to the Northern Strip. However, Hamas' final response may be delayed compared to the timescales expected by Israel.” In the background there is the internal conflict within Hamas, with the “political” leaders of the group who live in Qatar who are trying to find an agreement and the military leader of the Palestinian terrorist group Yahya Sinwar, who is hidden in the tunnels of Rafah or Khan Yunis and is protecting himself and his family by using Israeli hostages as human shields.

In this regard, speaking to Sky News, former US Army Deputy Chief of Staff General Jack Keane cited sources according to whom Sinwar has a significant number of hostages – around 20 – surrounding both him and his family . «My sources tell me that Sinwar, who is the number one leader in Gaza of the Hamas organization, has 15-20 hostages protecting him and his family. That's why they are holding these hostages to ensure their survival.” As we have written several times in recent months, Yahya Sinwar has sabotaged any hypothesis of an agreement, because the Israelis have always refused to allow him to leave the Gaza Strip to go to Algeria or Tunisia, two countries that have shown themselves willing to welcome him, and the same goes for his deputy Mohammed Deif, who is also hidden underground. The two do not intend to surrender and are willing to die, taking with them the last hostages still alive, who are the only weapon still in the hands of Sinwar and Deif. Why then would they agree to their release, knowing full well that the IDF will enter Rafah anyway?

Another aspect that is certainly not secondary is that it is by no means a given that the Israeli government, in the event of Hamas' assent, will give the green light to the agreement, given that some parties of the far-right coalition have criticized the agreement as a sort of surrender to the demands of the terrorist group, threatening to bring down the government. As we write, we learn that the United States continues to oppose a possible invasion in Rafah, underlining the need for a plan to protect civilians. Another aspect that Israel must watch out for is that, according to the New York Times, the United States and Saudi Arabia “have almost completed the mutual defense treaty at 90%”, but a crucial part remains uncertain to obtain the support of Congress: normalization of relations between Riyadh and Israel. As reported by the NYT, this step could only happen if Israel accepts the conditions proposed by the Saudis, namely the withdrawal from Gaza, the freezing of the construction of settlements in the West Bank and the start of a process lasting three to five years to establish a Palestinian state in the occupied territories.

At the same time, Washington and Riyadh are considering the possibility of finalizing the agreement and presenting it to Congress with the explicit condition that Saudi Arabia will normalize relations with Israel as soon as the Jewish state has a government willing to meet the requirements established by Saudi and Americans. As we write, we learn that now complicating the picture is the fact that Hamas is now demanding that Turkey be the guarantor of the agreement, together with the United States, Egypt and Qatar after the US refused to allow Russia to act as guarantor. In any case according to Israeli sources, Jerusalem has given Hamas one last week to accept the current proposed deal or the IDF will invade Rafah.