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Cautious optimism around Israel-Hamas deal but Netanyahu indecisive

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows that his far-right allies will give him hell, should he accept a hostage release deal that would set free thousands of Palestinian prisoners.
TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - JANUARY 30: An Israeli soldier passes by a wall with photos of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip on January 30, 2024 in Tel Aviv, Israel. The Israeli prime minister's office referred to as "constructive" the recent high-level talks on a proposed pause in fighting in Gaza, as well the release of Israeli hostages held there. The potential deal, which is being brokered by Qatar and Egypt, would also entail the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel and other conditions. (Phot

TEL AVIV — Israelis await impatiently to hear the response by Hamas for a possible hostage-release outline currently on the table, but at the same time, they are also awaiting their prime minister to clarify his position on the proposal. 

Netanyahu’s public indecisiveness is nothing new, nor his attempts to curry favor with his right-wing electorate. A taste of it could be seen last Saturday. As he held what has become a routine Saturday evening news conference, one of his closest aides showed up wearing a cap with the slogan, “Total Victory.” 

The slogan, vigorously recited by the prime minister and his followers, was minted by Netanyahu’s propaganda machine in a bid to reclaim his self-proclaimed “Mr. Security” image. That image was smashed to smithereens by the catastrophic Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel. Thus, the subtext of this new slogan is clear: Contrary to the widely held perception, Netanyahu did not lead a policy of appeasing Hamas over the years, but rather continuously warned against the organization. 

Netanyahu said as much to British TV host Douglas Murray in an interview aired Sunday. “That may be true of some people,” he said in response to Murray’s question about Israel’s failed conception regarding Hamas. “But I always said you can’t cut deals with Hamas.” In other words, Israel’s Chamberlain is trying to transform himself into its Churchill. It will not work as he lacks the required leadership skills.

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