The Public Negotiations Table

Negotiations Deal

7 months after the barbaric terrorist attack by Hamas, Israel is still dashing within Gaza, with no clear goals, with international credibility at the lowest point ever, and with a deal to free hostages seemingly still far out of reach.

As negotiations continue we can glimpse what is going on in the negotiating rooms from what is shared with the public. In the last few weeks, it has become clear that the two sides are engaged in a game of chicken, desperately hoping the other will blink first

Hamas has announced it agrees to a cease fire, yet forgets to mention that they agree only to their own terms and conditions that have nothing much to do with any previous negotiations. Israel, in an act to show it is serious, starts the maneuvers within Rafah. Some call it a “limited operation.” The truth is that Israel hopes the threat of an all out response will force Hamas to really negotiate. Israel is trying to use this leverage to signal rightfully to the world that “We want our hostages back and Hamas dismantled. If Hamas won’t climb down from the tree it is on, we will have to and be forced to choose the military path in Rafah.”

I am not surprised we have started to see the international community asserting that they don’t support any operation in Rafah. Indeed they appear extremely against it, considering the strong possibility that such an operation will cause a humanitarian crisis in Rafah. It seems the whole world feels the need to weigh in.  However, the only voices that Israel can and should care about are those of its friends and allies.   

Why are people surprised that President Biden said that the US might stop delivering some ammunition if Israel chooses to start a full scale operation in Rafah? This is the US leverage right now. No, Biden isn’t an anti-Israel president, nor is he antisemitic. He is just showing Israeli decision makers what cards they are playing with. The US has every right to signal its own red lines.

In this game of negotiations, Hamas thinks they can still find a way out of the mess they have created and remain the rulers of Gaza the day after, or at least be behind the scenes de facto in control. Israel cannot allow that to happen. Any Israeli end game must ensure that Hamas cannot successfully pull off another October 7th attack ever again.

As we enter another stage of this war with the presumably upcoming full-scale operation in Rafah, I hope that Hamas leaders will find some sense in their twisted minds and understand that their time has come, or as Boccelli sings, Time to Say Goodbye.

About the Author
Tal Zelinger is the Founder and President of The International Diplomacy Initiative. His expertise lies in public diplomacy, contemporary foreign affairs, and politics drawing from his experience working with Congress, Israel's Knesset and the European Parliament.
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