AA Edit | Onus on Israel to stop Gaza war

The Asian Age.

Opinion, Edit

Benny Gantz gives Netanyahu a three-week deadline to address Gaza war issues, as the offensive in Rafah ramps up

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a ceremony for the 'Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel's Wars and Victims of Terrorism' at Yad LeBanim in Jerusalem, Israel, Sunday, May 12, 2024. Israel will observe Memorial Day from sunset tonight until sunset May 13, when Independence Day begins.( Debbie Hill/Pool Photo via AP)

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been served a three-week ultimatum by Benny Gantz, a member of his war cabinet, to address several major issues and reach an agreement within the cabinet on the future of the Gaza war and after.

Considering Mr Netanyahu’s rule will not be challenged even if Mr Gantz’s National Unity Party leaves his government, it is on the cards that the offensive in Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s last haven for Palestinian refugees and citizens, will intensify.

What Mr Netanyahu may, however, not have thought through fully before launching the retaliatory attacks for the Hamas strike on Israel on October 7 was, what would happen the day after the war is called off or is over?

The US and other governments, fundamentally committed to an independent Palestinian state that should include Gaza, may temporarily back the Palestinian Authority, which administers the West Bank, to help govern Gaza. Israel under Netanyahu is unlikely to agree, and it will also insist on total security control of Gaza in the future to stave off recurrence of the October 7 type of attack by Hamas.

A more immediate demand of all Israelis is that the forces get back around 128 hostages thought to be still alive and held by Hamas and that would not be possible unless a ceasefire is agreed upon. Pressured as he is by strident demands, including normalisation of relations with Saudi Arabia, Mr Netanyahu can continue to wield power with his war cabinet unhindered only if the war continues.

The dilemma caused by this situation of unrelenting war operations by Israel is that there can be no ceasefire and no talks about the future administration of the Gaza Strip and no return to normalcy for a couple of million Palestinians, a majority of whom are facing unbelievable privations while many of them are also on the brink of starvation.

It would suit the world if the war were to cease so talks begin on concrete plans for the future of Gaza and efforts to break Israeli resistance to a Palestinian state can also start. But all that remains distant thanks to Mr Netanyahu and his coalition government that still commands a majority in Parliament and insists on sustained Rafah operations to break Hamas.