Sherwin Pomerantz

The 170th Day of Israel’s War Against Hamas  

Today, the 170th day of War in Israel is also the holiday of Purim which celebrates the deliverance of the Jews of Persia (read: Iran) from the attempt to obliterate us there two millennia ago. In many respects the holiday this year is sort of reliving that story once more with some of the same characters in place. As the saying goes, the more things change the more they stay the same.

China and Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution at the UN Security Council on Friday morning, saying the text didn’t go far enough in calling for a ceasefire in the war against Hamas in Gaza. Washington’s resolution, which underwent six drafts, states that an immediate, sustained ceasefire is “imperative” and “towards that end, unequivocally supports ongoing international diplomatic efforts to secure such a ceasefire in connection with the release of all remaining hostages.”

“The American resolution—should it have passed—would have marked a moment of morality for the UN, a place where good is evil, and justice is injustice,” Gilad Erdan, the Israeli ambassador to the global body, stated after the vote. “It would have been the very first time that this council—or any UN body—condemned Hamas and their brutal massacre. Sadly, for purely political reasons, this resolution did not pass, and terrorists can continue benefiting from this council whitewashing their crimes,” he added.

Frankly, Erdan’s comment is a bit puzzling as the wording of the resolution does not specifically link a ceasefire to a hostage release, but simply says it supports that concept.

An Israeli delegation to Qatar has agreed to a new hostage release proposal and may consider a ceasefire if Hamas leaders leave Gaza permanently, according to a report on Israel’s Kan Radio Network. The latest iteration of the framework hostage deal would secure the release of women, elderly, and wounded hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners during a 6-week ceasefire. The bone of contention was over the number of Palestinian prisoners Israel would have to free for every hostage.  Hamas at first demanded the release of 30 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for every female soldier, but after an objection from Israel, the United States requested that the number be lowered to 5, a compromise Israel agreed to. The Israeli delegation said it was also willing to discuss the return of 2,000 Palestinians to northern Gaza, according to Channel 12 news. According to Al Jazeera, Israel also demanded the release of the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul. Hamas may take several days before giving its answer.

The US House of Representatives narrowly passed the “minibus” spending package that combines six appropriations bills, with billions in funding for Israel and other projects supported by US Jewish groups. The $1.2 trillion package, which passed 286-134 on Friday, funds the US Departments of Defense, State and Homeland Security. The bill, which heads to the US Senate next, includes several pro-Israel measures, including $3.3 billion in foreign military financing for Israel; $500 million for US-Israel missile-defense cooperation; and $87.5 million in US-Israel counter-drone and anti-tunneling cooperation. The bill forbids US funding to the UN’s Palestinian aid agency UNRWA in the wake of Israeli allegations that agency staffers participated in the Oct. 7 attacks and that a substantial percentage of UNRWA employees are members of Hamas. The bill was passed by the US Senate on Friday night and then signed by President Biden.

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) called the legislation “the most pro-Israel State and Foreign Operations bill that we have ever seen.”

To our Jewish readers, Happy Purim, Purim Sameach and to those living in Jerusalem where the observance is delayed for a day (applies to walled cities only) enjoy the holiday tonight and tomorrow.

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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