The deal to release all the hostages has been on the table since October 8. All the Palestinian prisoners in exchange for all the hostages.
Now Hamas has introduced two additional conditions – the cessation of hostilities (not a ceasefire) and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip beyond the fence.
From October 8 until today and as long as this government exists, Netanyahu was and will not be able to deliver an agreement with his zealous partners from the right to release all Palestinian prisoners. And unfortunately, Netanyahu needs his partners on the right for his survival, more than he feels obliged to return the hostages who are still alive while living in hell on earth.
The Struckim, Smotrichim, Ben Gvirim and the other zealots, and also the fanatical members in the Likud, who are no less fanatical than Smotrich and Struck, will not sign on such a deal.
The increased withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza in recent days “to move to the North” probably is intended to create a presentation as if the withdrawal was voluntary, from an operational decision by the political and military leadership, and not as a result of accepting Hamas terms.
It should be said explicitly – there is no way to eliminate Hamas. Every Hamas person (and not involved) that is killed, produces at least one more future Hamas member. Son of, brother of, cousin of, spouse, father.
In order for such a deal to take place, one of two scenarios must happen:
- A partner from Netanyahu’s partners on the right needs to come out in favor of the return of the hostages at any cost (Mitzvah Pidion Shoviim, Bavli, Gitin 45 and 58). Netanyahu will not move forward alone.
The only one who has a chance of doing it is Aryeh Deri. Deri and Shas under the leadership of Rabbi Ovadia have been a relatively moderate and humane voice over the years.
If Netanyahu has a partner, he will be able to pass such a difficult but essential deal.
- A situation in which the responsibility or “blame” for the transaction can be thrown on Benny Gantz or a short rotation at the PM for the sole purpose of the transaction, which will transfer the responsibility for a short period of time to Gantz.
It is not clear how such a scenario can be implemented, but the last few years in Israel have proven to us that there are a variety of exercises and legal tricks to bend corners when desired, even if it is about the principles of democracy and the separation of powers.
The official campaign for the hostages is not an effective campaign. The days pass and the campaign has little effect on what happens in the decision-making corridors.
With all the difficulty involved when there are over 100 hostages, the campaign needs to focus on one story, one woman or man, and make her/him the face of the campaign.
Like in the campaign for Gilad Shalit or for Naama Issachar. It is easier for people, Israelis, and foreigners, to identify and connect with one face and a name than with more than a hundred hostages and their horrific stories that each and every one of them experiences.
It is easier for the fanatical right to delegitimize our obligation to release the hostages when talking about “hostages” instead of a name and a face.
For example, the hostage Or Levy and his beautiful family, whose story is not so well known but his story and the photos of his beautiful family never leave my thoughts.
Einav, Or’s wife, was murdered at the Nova party, Or was kidnapped to Gaza wounded and their little son Almog, 2.5 years old, has been looking for his parents for over 100 days.
In the current situation, it is symbolic to say that all that remains is to “pray that they return home,” because in reality they probably won’t return in the existing state of things.
On October 7, there was no one there, including God, for the residents of the Western Negev and the Nova partygoers, and even now, unfortunately, there is no one to save them from Gaza.