Israel’s Gaza Strategy // Col. John Spencer’s Remarkable Interview with Prime Minister benjamin Netanyahu

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The US abstained from the vote, allowing the resolution to pass, saying that they could not vote for the resolution because it failed to condemn Hamas.

A chasm between the US understanding of the resolution and Israel’s understanding immediately opened.
In response to the US abstention, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called off his government’s participation in talks with the White House about a possible offensive in the south Gaza city of Rafah. (Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is in DC speaking with administration officials, however.)
For their part, the Americans expressed confusion about the Israeli anger towards the resolution. A number of American officials publicly stated that the resolution linked the ceasefire to an unconditional release of the hostages held by Hamas, a position that they thought Israel would certainly agree to.
In fact, the language of the resolution tends more towards the Israeli interpretation. The relevant passage reads:
“[The Security Council demands] an immediate ceasefire for the month of Ramadan respected by all parties leading to a lasting sustainable ceasefire, and also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access to address their medical and other humanitarian needs, and further demands that the parties comply with their obligations under international law in relation to all persons they detain.”
The two demands seem entirely separate in the text.
Furthermore, the resolution immediately undercuts its demand for an “immediate and unconditional” release of the hostages by saying that humanitarian access to them should be ensured. If they should be immediately released, what need is there for humanitarian access?
Hamas made clear what their view of the resolution was, as well, because when they congratulated the UN on its resolution, they also said that they were still discussing the hostage negotiations—in direct contradiction with the supposed call for an “immediate and unconditional” release of the hostages.
(The Americans have also said that the resolution is non-binding, though Security Council resolutions are usually binding. It’s unclear what they based this on.)
The worsening pressure on Israel reinforces the idea that Israel needs a clear strategy and goals in its actions in Gaza so that it does what it needs to do in as short a time as it can. And some of the biggest questions about Israel’s war on Hamas have been what Israel views as its goals and what tactics it has been using to get there.
Recently, John Spencer was able to put those questions directly to Benjamin Netanyahu.

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