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HomeBusinessNetanyahu aide says Israel agreed to Biden's cease-fire plan for Gaza

Netanyahu aide says Israel agreed to Biden’s cease-fire plan for Gaza

An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Britain’s Sunday Times that Israel had agreed to the framework for President Joe Biden’s plan to bring an end to the war in Gaza, though he said it was “not a good deal.”

A deal is yet to be finalized, and Israel’s official position remains unclear. NBC News has reached out to the Isreali Prime Minister’s Office for clarification.

Biden announced Friday that Israel had proposed a three-part plan that would ultimately lead to a complete cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, as well as the release of all hostages who have been held there for the last eight months. It’s “time for this war to end,” Biden said.

On Saturday, Netanyahu appeared to undermine the plan, releasing a statement that called a permanent cease-fire in Gaza a “nonstarter” until long-standing conditions for ending the war are met, reiterating that “Israel’s conditions for ending the war have not changed: the destruction of Hamas’s military and governing capabilities, the freeing of all hostages and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.”

In an interview Britain’s Sunday Times, Ophir Falk, chief foreign policy advisor to Netanyahu, emphasized that Israel was not rejecting the deal, saying that it was “a deal we agreed to — it’s not a good deal but we dearly want the hostages released, all of them.”

He added that Israel’s conditions “have not changed” — the release of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.

Biden’s plan recast the end to the war, not with the destruction of Hamas, as Israel seeks, but with a degraded Hamas “no longer capable” of carrying out a large-scale attack on Israel like the one by the militant group in October 7.

“Indefinite war in pursuit of an unidentified notion of total victory will only bog down Israel in Gaza,” Biden said.

Far-right factions within Netanyahu’s cabinet reacted strongly to the proposal laid out by by Biden, exposing the competing domestic pressures Netanyahu faces.

Bezalel Smotrich, finance minister and chairman of the far right Religious Zionist Party, said on X that he would “not be part of a government that agrees to the proposed outline and ends the war without destroying Hamas.”

Itamar Ben Gvir, national security minister and leader of the far-right Jewish Power Party, called the proposal “a victory for terrorism,” that agreeing to the deal would be “absolute defeat,” and threatening on X “to dissolve the government” should Netanyahu agree to the proposal.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid called the threats from Ben Gvir and Smotrich a “neglect of national security, of the hostages and of the residents of the north and the south.” Lapid had earlier pledged support to Netyanahu should he accept the deal in definace of his far right coalition partners.

“There is a deal on the table and it needs to be done. I remind Netanyahu that he has a security network from us for the hostage deal if Ben Gvir and Smotrich leave the government,” Lapid said on X.

For his part, “Netanyahu can’t wax enthusiastic about a plan that fails to achieve ‘absolute victory,'” Laura Blumenfeld, a Middle East analyst at the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies in Washington said. “That’s ok, as long as he avoids one word: ‘No.'”

Meanwhile, international pressure continued to build behind the U.S. as Spain, France, Germany and Belgium each backed the deal. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made calls to Arab leaders on Saturday affirming their commitment to the cease-fire. Qatar, Egypt and the U.S. released a joint statement backing the peace plan.

A spokesperson for Hamas released a statement shortly after the announcement, saying the group “views positively what was included in U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech.”

The plan’s first phase includes six weeks of a complete cease-fire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from populated areas, and the release of women and children being held hostage. The second phase would see the release of all living hostages in exchange for Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, before a major reconstruction in Gaza and the return of the remains of deceased hostages to their families in the final phase.

Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to urge the government to accept a cease-fire. In response to Biden’s statement, the Hostages Families Forum, the Israeli organization that advocates for the release of hostages taken during the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, called on members of Israel’s parliament to accept the deal.

“The forum demands the return of all hostages, some for rehabilitation and other for burial, and not to miss the opportunity that has arisen to bring them home.”

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