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Israel Considering Egypt’s Three-Step Plan to End The Gaza Conflict

Israel’s war cabinet convened to deliberate on a three-step peace plan presented by Egypt as an effort to resolve the ongoing Gaza conflict. The proposal, considered the most comprehensive to date, aims to address the crisis that has persisted for 11 weeks.

Egypt’s Comprehensive Peace Plan

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The Egyptian proposal outlines a three-phase approach for ending the Gaza war. While offering a potential path to peace, some terms within the plan are expected to face resistance from both sides involved.

Phase One: Immediate Pause and Hostage Release

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The initial phase calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities. It is designed to facilitate the release of Israeli hostages, including children, women, and elderly individuals requiring urgent medical attention. In exchange, around 140 Palestinian prisoners would be set free.

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Phase Two: Transitional Government Formation

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Following the initial ceasefire, the plan advocates the formation of a transitional government for the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This government would comprise various Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

Challenges and Hurdles

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While the plan holds potential, it faces significant challenges from both sides. Israeli officials are determined to eradicate Hamas, making any involvement of the group in a transitional government problematic. Additionally, the release of senior Palestinian prisoners could face resistance from Israel’s right-wing government.

Benny Gantz’s Statement

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Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, a member of the war cabinet, acknowledged that there are multiple proposals for the release of hostages but expressed uncertainty about their viability during a meeting with hostage families.

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Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Stance

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a visit to troops in north Gaza, indicated that the war is far from ending, emphasizing that “the war continues until the end.”

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Netanyahu outlined three prerequisites for peace with Gaza: the destruction of Hamas, the demilitarization of Gaza, and the deradicalization of Palestinian society.

Egypt’s Key Role as Negotiator

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Egypt, a pivotal intermediary between Israel and Hamas, shared the proposal with both parties, as well as with Qatar and the United States. Discussions also took place with the Palestinian Authority concerning a transitional, technocratic government after a ceasefire agreement.

Challenges to the Plan

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The plan encounters hurdles on multiple fronts, with Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar unlikely to accept a deal relinquishing his power in Gaza and releasing Israeli hostages.

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Humanitarian Crisis and Casualties

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The Gaza conflict has taken a heavy toll on both Hamas and the civilian population, leading to a humanitarian crisis. Palestinian health officials reported over 20,000 casualties, with a significant number being women and children.

Continued Fighting

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Meanwhile, the Israeli military reported ongoing fighting in Khan Younis, a stronghold of Hamas. Overnight Israeli airstrikes in central Gaza resulted in dozens of Palestinian casualties.

Discoveries in Gaza

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Israeli soldiers found a vehicle with an Israeli license plate belonging to the late Israeli hostage Samer Talalka. Remnants of a rocket-propelled grenade and bloodstains belonging to another hostage were discovered in the vehicle.

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Dismantling of Tunnel Complex

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The Israeli military disclosed the dismantling of a significant underground tunnel complex that served as Hamas’s northern command center. This complex played a crucial role in directing the October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in numerous Israeli casualties.

Egypt’s Proposal Phases

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The Egyptian proposal’s first phase calls for a 10-day ceasefire during which all civilian hostages held in Gaza would be released in exchange for Israel releasing approximately 140 Palestinian prisoners.

Additional Measures in Phase One

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Phase one also involves the withdrawal of Israeli forces from residential areas in Gaza, allowing the free movement of Palestinians within the strip. Israel would pause drone surveillance and increase aid delivery, particularly to northern Gaza.

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Subsequent Phases and Negotiation Challenges

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In phases two and three, negotiations would center on the release of female and male Israeli soldiers in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Establishing a transitional, technocratic government presents intricate negotiating challenges, including reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

Prospect of Postwar Elections

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Upon the transitional government’s assumption of power, elections would be conducted. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, aged 88, would be succeeded by a younger leader with majority approval among Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority Involvement

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U.S. officials advocate for the Palestinian Authority’s role in postwar Gaza, while Prime Minister Netanyahu has been hesitant about their involvement.

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