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Phase B of the deal: No Hamas and no Israel in the Strip

Netanyahu. Wikipedia, Kremlin

The breakthrough in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas for the release of the Hostages led to intensive talks during the past week with the participation of the negotiating team, and the heads of the Shin Bet and Mossad. The exact details of the breakthrough are not entirely known, nor are the advanced sections in the discussion of the later stages of the agreement. In general, it can be assumed that Hamas gave up the condition of ending the total war; on the other hand, on Sunday Prime Minister Netanyahu published five basic principles on which Israel will not agree to give up in any sort of deal:

  • Israel will be able to fight back at any time.
  • Israel will prevent the smuggling of arms to Hamas from the Egyptian border – that is, the continuation of control of the Philadelphi route and the Rafah crossing.
  • Armed terrorists will not be able to return to the northern Gaza Strip – that is, the continuation of control of the Netzarim corridor in the central Gaza Strip.
  • Israel will immediately maximize the number of living hostages that can be returned from Hamas.
  • Israel will agree to the Biden deal outline, as long as the war’s goals are not harmed.

Today, the Washington Post published a fascinating detail about the advanced stages of the deal, which was delivered by an American source familiar with the negotiations: Both Israel and Hamas agreed to avoid control in the Gaza Strip as part of the second phase of the Hostage. Security will be handed over to a force of several thousand people, including designated forces on behalf of the United States and moderate Arab states, and especially Palestinian Authority forces – but those who will be “checked” by Israel.

With such partial Palestinian control over the Gaza Strip, there may be double profits for Israel: On the one hand, not a full takeover of the Strip by the Palestinian Authority, with all its complexities and problems (and let’s not forget that it was the PA that ruled the Gaza Strip until 2007, when it became clear that Hamas was more powerful than it by a significant margin); On the other hand, an image of Palestinian control of the Gaza Strip, which could reduce international pressure from Israel and even open a new door to normalization talks with Saudi Arabia, that were blocked by the war.

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