Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuffed a truce proposal from Hamas regarding the conflict in Gaza.
During a news conference held on February 6th, following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Netanyahu confidently stated that Israel could achieve “total victory” over Hamas within months.
The Israeli Prime Minister expressed his resolve to dismantle all of Hamas’s military capabilities in Gaza, including its extensive underground tunnel network. He asserted, “There is no other solution but a complete and final victory,” indicating a firm stance against any compromise that would allow Hamas’s survival in Gaza.
Netanyahu’s dismissal of Hamas’s ceasefire terms comes amidst ongoing negotiations mediated by the governments of Qatar and Egypt. Hamas had proposed a three-phase ceasefire plan, each phase spanning 45 days. The first phase involved the release of certain groups of hostages captured during the October 7, 2023 attacks in southern Israel. In return, Israel would release female and underage Palestinian prisoners and withdraw troops from populated areas.
The second phase would initiate only after indirect discussions about conditions necessary for ending hostilities and restoring peace were concluded. Complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza was expected during this phase. The third phase would see the release of adult male hostages not freed during the first stage, and the handover of bodies and remains of hostages who died in Hamas custody.
A permanent ceasefire agreement was expected to be reached by the end of the third phase. This three-stage plan was a counterproposal to a plan proposed by the United States, Israel, Qatar, and Egypt.
Antony Blinken, who arrived in Jerusalem on February 6th for his fifth Middle East tour since October 2023, advocated for a six-week pause in the Gaza War. He expressed the need for intense scrutiny of Hamas’s counterproposal and called for the continuation of humanitarian aid into Gaza.
Blinken’s call for humanitarian aid came as Israel announced it would not permit the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) to operate in Gaza post-war, citing evidence of the agency staff’s involvement in the October 7 attack.
Blinken underscored the urgency of providing assistance to innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, stating, “We all have an obligation to do everything possible to get the necessary assistance to those who so desperately need it, and the steps that are being taken—additional steps that need to be taken—are the focus of my own meetings here.”