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Biden Gets Timely Unexpected Win

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to the Israeli proposal for a hostage and ceasefire deal after initially stepping back from his support for it the previous day.

This proposal, which has the backing of President Biden but not the acceptance of Hamas, remains the sole framework aimed at securing the release of hostages held in Gaza and ending the ongoing conflict there. Netanyahu’s cabinet had approved and presented the proposal to Hamas more than three weeks ago. The three-phase plan aims to secure the release of all 120 remaining hostages and achieve lasting peace in Gaza.

However, on Sunday, Netanyahu expressed interest in a “partial deal” during an interview with Channel 14, a pro-Netanyahu Israeli television channel. He suggested freeing only some of the hostages while continuing military operations in Gaza, a departure from the comprehensive deal he had previously supported. Hamas responded by accusing Netanyahu of opposing the UN Security Council resolution and not aligning with Biden’s efforts for a deal and peace in Gaza. Qatari officials, frustrated by Netanyahu’s remarks, sought clarification from Israeli Mossad officials, expressing their disappointment given their efforts to mediate.

In a speech at the Knesset on Monday, Netanyahu clarified, stating, “I promise you … we will not end the war until we return all of our hostages — 120 hostages, the living and the deceased. We are committed to the Israeli proposal, which President Biden has welcomed. Our position has not changed.” He added that Israel will also continue its efforts to eliminate Hamas.

Netanyahu’s comments on Sunday caused confusion and concern among members of the Israeli hostage negotiation team and U.S. officials, who saw the remarks as damaging to the negotiation efforts. A Netanyahu aide described his comments as a “gaffe,” and Netanyahu himself admitted that a clarification was necessary. U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller acknowledged that public figures sometimes misspeak and need to clarify their statements.

Following Netanyahu’s speech at the Knesset, Israel sent messages to Hamas through Egyptian and Qatari intermediaries to emphasize their commitment to the proposed deal, even sharing a video of Netanyahu’s speech to reinforce the message. This, according to a senior member of the Israeli negotiations team, was an important correction and placed the responsibility back on Hamas to respond positively.

Khalil al-Haya, head of the Hamas negotiation team, indicated a willingness to engage in real negotiations if Netanyahu adheres to Biden’s principles, expressing hope that mediators could facilitate an agreement and end the war. Meanwhile, Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, during a meeting with CIA Director Bill Burns in Washington, reiterated his commitment to bringing all the hostages back home.

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