Sherwin Pomerantz

Israel Should Agree to the Latest Deal

Washington, Cairo, and Doha on Saturday night urged Israel and Hamas to accept a three-phase road map – for the release of the remaining 125 hostages, an end to the Gaza war, and the rehabilitation of the enclave – which US President Biden publicly unveiled one day earlier. “The demands of all parties” have been “brought together in a deal that serves multiple interests and will bring relief both to the long-suffering people of Gaza as well as to the long-suffering hostages and their families. The deal offers a roadmap for a permanent ceasefire and ending the crisis,” the joint statement said according to a Qatari Foreign Ministry post.

Qatar and Egypt, which have been mediating a deal, with the help of the US spoke up after Biden outlined a three-phase deal, in which female, sick, elderly, and wounded hostages would be freed during the first six weeks. The second phase would see the release of the remainder of the captives. The third phase deals with the reconstruction of Gaza and the return of hostages’ remains.

The broad outline, which Biden spoke about from the White House, was essentially the framework of an Israeli proposal from weeks ago, which Hamas had rejected, a source told The Jerusalem Post.  It allows for a lull in the fighting for six weeks for the release of the humanitarian hostages, without addressing the issue of a permanent ceasefire. Hamas has insisted that Israel must first promise to end the war, before allowing for the release of any hostages. Egypt, Qatar, and the US are now attempting to break that impasse, with the Biden administration increasing the pressure for a deal.

After Biden’s speech Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office said “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: The destruction of Hamas military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

“Under the proposal, Israel will continue to insist these conditions are 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 PMO said.

In my opinion the framework is sufficiently phased so that Israel takes very little risk in agreeing to the proposal. In the first phase a significant number of hostages will be returned and there will be six weeks of quiet.  Sure, there is a risk that Hamas will rearm but their capacity to do so has been dramatically reduced by the work of the IDF over these last 240 days. We can always decide later that we don’t want to move forward with additional phases if we get concerned about the future. Frankly it is what our enemies do all the time, agree to a deal and then bolt when they don’t like it anymore.  Maybe its time we looked at things the same way. And if Smotrich and Bem Gvir leave the coalition over this and cause the government to fall, so be it….the country may be better off without them in government in any event. Then we would go to new elections and, hopefully, the new government will be more balanced.

It would seem that my op ed in last week’s Jerusalem Post urging Prime Minister Netanyahu not to accept an offer to speak to the both chamber of the US Congress fell on deaf ears. On Saturday he accepted an invitation to do so. This will be the fourth time Netanyahu has addressed the US governing bodies, the highest number for any foreign head of state. British wartime leader Winston Churchill is the only other head of state to have addressed Congress three times.

US House Speaker Mike Johnson, Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnel and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries extended the invitation to Netanyahu on Friday evening. “To build on our enduring relationship and to highlight America’s solidarity with Israel, we invite you to share the Israeli government’s vision for defending democracy, combating terror and establishing a just and lasting peace in the region,” reads the invitation letter. “We join the State of Israel in your struggle against terror, especially as Hamas continues to hold American and Israeli citizens captive and its leaders jeopardize regional stability,” the letter states. “For this reason…we would like to invite you to address a joint meeting of Congress.”

Some members of Congress opposed to Netanyahu and Israel’s war against Hamas have said they will boycott the Israeli premier’s address. “Benjamin Netanyahu is a war criminal. He should not be invited to address a joint meeting of Congress. I certainly will not attend,” tweeted Sen. Bernie Sanders. He denounced Hamas, but said Israel does not have the right “to go to war against the entire Palestinian people.” No doubt others will join him in boycotting the speech. The speech is scheduled to take place later this month, according to Israel Hayom. According to The Hill, citing a source familiar with the matter, the address could take place “as soon as the next eight weeks or soon after August recess.”

On the issue of the demonstrations against Israel (and Jews and America as well, of course) HBO comedian Bill Maher has a great bit this week on the real (gender) apartheid in the world and why that should be the rallying cry for young people searching for a cause. You can see it here…..

Leave it to Maher to zero in on a subject with a well-directed smoking gun.

About the Author
Sherwin Pomerantz is a native New Yorker, who lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years before coming to Israel in 1984. An industrial engineer with advanced degrees in mechanical engineering and business, he is President of Atid EDI Ltd., a 32 year old Jerusalem-based economic development consulting firm which, among other things, represents the regional trade and investment interests of a number of US states, regional entities and Invest Hong Kong. A past national president of the Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, he is also Former Chairperson of the Board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies and a Board Member of the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce. His articles have appeared in various publications in Israel and the US.
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