Saturday, June 22, 2024

Israeli captive families urge Netanyahu to accept Biden’s Gaza plan

Family members of the Israeli captives held in Gaza have called on the government to accept a ceasefire plan presented by US President Joe Biden, asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly support the proposal.

In a weekly press conference held on Saturday, the Hostage and Missing Families Forum said that it was calling for the “the citizens of Israel to take to the streets in order to ensure the completion of the deal”.

The forum believes that Netanyahu may be obstructing a deal, after Biden said in a news conference at the White House on Friday that Israel had put forward “a comprehensive new proposal” to end the war.

The three-phase plan described by Biden seeks to implement a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that involves the withdrawal of Israeli forces from all populated areas of Gaza and the release of all Israelis held captive in the strip.

Hamas has indicated that it is open to the proposal, raising hopes of a halt to Israel’s eight-month war.

In a statement, the group announced it “reaffirms its readiness to positively engage and cooperate with any proposal based on the foundation of a permanent ceasefire, complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, reconstruction, the return of displaced people to their homes, and the completion of a genuine prisoner exchange deal, provided that the occupation announces its explicit commitment to this”.

And in a joint statement, the US, Qatar, and Egypt jointly called on Hamas and Israel to finalise an agreement.

But on Saturday, Netanyahu was adamant in declaring that for Israel’s war on Gaza to end, Hamas must be destroyed.

“Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel,” his office said in a statement.

It added those conditions must be met, “before a permanent ceasefire is put in place”.

“The notion that Israel will agree to a permanent ceasefire before these conditions are fulfilled is a non-starter.”

The Hostage and Missing Families Forum stressed that Netanyahu was under pressure from within his own government.

“There is a minority that is blackmailing Netanyahu and threatening the deal, and we must support the deal and not leave the arena to extremists,” a spokesperson stated.

The armed group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, meanwhile, expressed “suspicion” of the plan announced by Biden saying the “cessation of aggression” must involve “complete withdrawal” of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Israeli attacks on Gaza since the start of the war have killed at least 36,379 people and wounded 82,407 others, with thousands more missing under the rubble and presumed dead. Israel launched its assault on the besieged territory after a Hamas-led attack in southern Israel killed about 1,200 people.

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