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Israeli Leaders Clash Over War Strategy Against Hamas: Divided at the Helm | World News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Israeli leadership is experiencing a growing rift regarding the optimal strategy to triumph in the nation’s harrowing conflict with Hamas, which recently surpassed its 100th day. Gadi Eisenkot, a prominent figure in the Israeli war cabinet and former head of the Israel Defense Forces, advocated for a ceasefire during a television interview. He emphasized that negotiating a substantial halt in hostilities is crucial for the safe return of the roughly 130 hostages held by Hamas.
“I think we need to assert that it is impossible to bring back the hostages alive in the near future without going through a deal,” Eisenkot said.
Eisenkot’s statement came shortly after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the US government’s plea to moderate Israel’s intense military operations, which have inflicted significant damage across the region. The conflict has resulted in over 1,200 Israeli and approximately 25,000 Palestinian casualties, as reported by Israeli officials and health authorities linked to Hamas.
Netanyahu has been facing increasing pressure to de-escalate the conflict with Hamas. However, he firmly said that Israel would not settle for anything less than a decisive victory. Both Netanyahu and Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant are adamant that the war must persist until Hamas is decisively defeated, asserting that military force is the only viable method to rescue the remaining hostages.
In a recent address, Netanyahu firmly opposed the US’s renewed proposition to consider the establishment of Palestinian statehood. He argued that such a move would provide new grounds for future assaults against Israel. Netanyahu has maintained that Israel must retain security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River, acknowledging that this stance conflicts with the notion of sovereignty. He expressed this viewpoint to American allies, emphasizing the importance of safeguarding Israel’s security.
Contrasting Netanyahu’s stance, Eisenkot argued that the notion of liberating the hostages without a ceasefire is merely an illusion. He criticized the war’s execution, stressing the need for a more strategic approach from the outset. Eisenkot also expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of Israel’s efforts against Hamas, noting that while some progress has been made, the strategic objectives, including the dismantling of Hamas, have not been fully achieved.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden and Netanyahu finally engaged in a long-awaited conversation on Friday, marking their first direct dialogue in nearly four weeks. This period of silence underscored the deepening rifts over the prospect of Palestinian statehood after the cessation of hostilities in Gaza.
Despite the global outcry over the rising civilian casualties and the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza following Israel’s military response to the October 7 attack, Biden and his senior officials have extended unwavering support to Netanyahu.
However, the dynamics of the Biden-Netanyahu relationship have been increasingly strained. Netanyahu has consistently dismissed Biden’s advocacy for Palestinian self-governance, complicating Biden’s vision of achieving lasting peace in the Middle East through the long-sought, yet elusive, two-state solution.
Both leaders remain steadfast in their positions.
The conversation on Friday occurred a day after Netanyahu’s explicit declaration to US authorities, stating his opposition to the inclusion of a Palestinian state in any post-conflict resolution. Conversely, Biden, during the call, reiterated his dedication to assisting the Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood.
US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby emphasized the importance of addressing Palestinian aspirations in discussions about the future of Gaza, stating, “As we’re talking about post-conflict Gaza … you can’t do that without also talking about the aspirations of the Palestinian people and what that needs to look like for them.”
In the initial stages of the conflict, Biden and Netanyahu maintained frequent communication. However, the regularity of their interactions has significantly diminished. The conversation on Friday, lasting between 30 to 40 minutes, was their first since December 23, reflecting the changing tempo of their three-decade-long, fluctuating relationship.
(With inputs from agencies)



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