Ron Kronish

Ten reasons for a cease-fire and a deal for the return of the hostages

wiki commons images. The Kidnapped and Missing Square in the plaza of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art
wiki commons images. The Kidnapped and Missing Square in the plaza of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art


  1. We need a cease-fire to get the hostages home right away (in exchange for lots of Palestinian prisoners!) This is the highest priority in Israeli society today. However, the current government favors the ongoing war rather than a very difficult deal now. The main reason why there has not been a deal (since the last one in November) is that the extreme right-wingers in the coalition (Smotrich and Ben Gvir and their colleagues) are against it! If Bibi would agree to this, his government would probably fall. In fact, in recent days, Smotrich and Ben Gvir have explicitly come out against an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages if too many Palestinian “murderers” are included in the agreement. They are the main factor holding up this agreement. Everyone in Israel and abroad knows this, which accounts for the recent statements by Senator Schumer and President Biden on this issue. As of now, it appears clear that the 134 hostages in Gaza are being sacrificed for this ongoing war (more than 30 of them have been pronounced dead and probably many more are dead by now).
  2. There is a real humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The crisis, which is the result of this war which was initiated by Hamas on October 7th, and therefore for which Hamas shares the responsibility, along with Israel, cannot be ignored or swept under the carpet. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless and starving in Gaza, without access to much food or medicine. This humanitarian crisis is widely known and recognized in the world but not in Israel. Here, there is obfuscation, denial and even purposeful starvation on the theory that if the population is starved that they will rebel against Hamas and thus force Hamas to surrender. While the government of Israel is grudgingly admitting this, due to international pressure, it is unlikely that they will do much about it. On the contrary, the prime minister has repeatedly announced that he will continue the war to Rafah, where there are already 1.5 million Palestinians living in dire conditions. If this were to happen, then the humanitarian crisis, which is unacceptable to most of the world, would only become much worse.
  3. Bibi has been using the slogan of “total victory” over Hamas for several months now but it is only spin. He purposely uses this slogan to remind you of the fight of the Western world against the Nazis in World War II. But he knows – and everyone knows – that this is a lie, that there is no “total victory” in sight. Hamas still exists in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Qatar and Turkey, and lots of other places and will continue to exist in these places for a long time. By the way, there is no “total victory” over Hezbollah in the north either. Israel was there for 18 years (from 1982-2000), and knows this very well.
  4. As long as the war in the south goes on, so does the war of attrition in the north. We need to avoid a terrible full-scale war in the north! This is well known in most enlightened quarters in Israel and abroad. A war with Hezbollah would be much worse than the one in Gaza, especially for the Israeli home front. I am grateful every day for the American diplomacy which has prevented the war of attrition between Hezbollah and the IDF in the north from becoming a full-scale war. The war in the north would end immediately with a cease-fire in Gaza. They are inextricably linked with one another.
  5. A combined cease-fire and deal for exchange of hostages for prisoners is essential so that our internal evacuees can return home in the south and the north (where the war will end once it ends in the south). There are at least 135,000 evacuees (displaced persons) in Israel who are waiting to go home. The government is deceiving them by repeating that only more war will bring security, and some of them are buying it and hoping that the IDF will enter Lebanon (once again) and “clean it up.” They have short memories. If they want to be able to get home soon, they should urge their government to reach a deal right away, rather than support another war which is not winnable,
  6. The IDF has work to do on fixing the D in the IDF: Defense. Which means Intelligence and Military Preparedness. These were the main failures of the October 7th debacle. There will need to be changes in the leadership of the IDF. This is well-known. But when will this happen? When the war ends! And when will this happen? It seems that there is no end to it.
  7. Civil society in Israel needs to wake up again. For the first nine months of 2023, there were massive protests against the government for its attempts to destroy democracy. They were effective in stopping the attempt to overhaul the judicial system. Now that it is becoming clearer that Bibi and his government will not achieve the goals that they set for this war, especially the goal of bringing home all the hostages, the people of Israel must rise up again and resist this government through massive demonstrations. I hope that this will begin to happen soon.
  8. We need this war to end so that we can have elections this year and elect a new responsible centrist leader. The current “leader” is a huge failure in many ways –domestically, internationally and diplomatically. As prime minister for 16 years, enough is enough already! As many commentators here and abroad have pointed out accurately, he is leading Israel to the abyss, especially since he brought in the most extreme right-wing members into the government this time, mostly for the sake of his own political survival. It is time for him to go. As soon as this war stops – and it becomes clear that Bibi and Ben Gvir and associates have abandoned the hostages – there will undoubtedly be huge demonstrations all over Israel which will help to bring Bibi and his government down, the sooner the better.
  9. Only a genuine peace process will ensure Israel’s security in the long run. This means cooperating with all those in the international community who want to have peace and stability in our region, rather than ongoing war. As of now, the current government of Israel has absolutely no intention of doing this. On the contrary, they are saying no to everyone on just about everything: no to President Biden about most of his administration’s ideas for “the day after”; no to Egypt (and the USA) with regard to the potential attack on Rafah, without a real plan about what to do with the 1.5 million Palestinians there; no to the negotiators in Qatar on just about everything, etc., etc. This is the exact opposite of what needs to be done. In order to live with stability and sustainability, Israel desperately needs a change in leadership which will shift gears from the war process to the peace process.
  10. We need a Palestinian partner for the peace process. Hamas is, of course, not the desired partner for peace. Rather, a revitalized Palestinian Authority, with a new leader, is the only relevant partner for this. All attempts to ignore them or to delegitimize them, as the extreme-right wing government of Israel is currently doing, will not serve the interests of Israel for long-term security in the region. There have been Palestinians who seek peace with Israel for a long time within the PA. New leadership in Israel will need to rekindle our relationships with them.
About the Author
Rabbi Dr Ron Kronish is the Founding Director the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel (ICCI), which he directed for 25 years. Now retired, he is an independent educator, author, lecturer, writer, speaker, blogger and consultant. He is the editor of 5 books, including Coexistence and Reconciliation in Israel--Voices for Interreligious Dialogue (Paulist Press, 2015). His new book, The Other Peace Process: Interreligious Dialogue, a View from Jerusalem, was published by Hamilton Books, an imprint of Rowman and LIttelfield, in September 2017. He recently (September 2022) published a new book about peacebuilders in Israel and Palestine entitled Profiles in Peace: Voices of Peacebuilders in the midst of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which is available on Amazon Books, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository websites,
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