Sherwin Pomerantz

The 209th Day of War in Israel

Jerusalem was still waiting on Thursday morning for a response from Hamas to the latest hostage-deal proposal, which US Secretary of State Blinken said on Wednesday features “very important compromises” by Israel.  Speaking at the port of Ashdod in southern Israel, the top American diplomat urged the Gaza-based terror group to take the deal on the table. “There’s no time for further haggling. The deal is there. They [Hamas] should take it.”

However, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official based in Lebanon, told the Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV that “our position on the current negotiating paper is negative,” according to The Times of Israel.  The terrorist organization’s press officer later clarified that “the negative position does not mean negotiations have stopped. There is a back-and-forth issue.”

Hamas will reportedly submit an amended proposal to the one given to them, which was drafted by American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators and green-lit by Jerusalem.  A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters that “Blinken’s comments contradict reality,” blaming Israel fo the impasse. An Israeli delegation is not heading back to Cairo for truce talks until Hamas terror leader in Gaza Yahya Sinwar issues a response, an Israeli official told Reuters.

Jerusalem has rejected Hamas’s demand to end the war, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the Israel Defense Forces will enter the Hamas stronghold of Rafah in southern Gaza irrespective of the outcome of hostage negotiations.  Sinwar is expected to oppose an outline that doesn’t end the war, Channel 13 reported.

Israel’s war cabinet is meeting Thursday evening to determine the best approach to deal with the expected rejection by Hamas of the latest offer of a cease fire and hostage release.  In spite of US Secretary of State Blinken’s seventh visit to the region since the beginning of the war, Hamas remains adamant that they want to see an official end to the war.

Israel is at a difficult juncture.  There is so much we who live here do not know.  Meanwhile, we remain embroiled in a war we did not want, with seemingly no end, hostages still being held and, to put it mildly, an internally conflicted government coalition as well.  I certainly don’t remember a time like this in the 40+ years I’ve lived here.  Hopefully, the dominoes will eventually fall into place and our path to return to some semblance of normalcy will make itself evident.  Until then we take one day at a time and hope for the best.

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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