Commentary: Why did Israel-Hamas ceasefire talks collapse – and can they be revived?


Unless there is an unexpected development – Israel’s elimination of Sinwar and Deif, or its military locating and freeing the remaining hostages – the war is likely to continue for some months.

Netanyahu probably feels he has no choice, from a political perspective, but to continue prosecuting the war in the same manner, in the hope of a breakthrough.

His history of staring down US presidents means he almost certainly won’t back down under pressure from Biden. And he will continue to tell the hostages’ families that their loved ones can only be rescued by military action alone, even if their demonstrations grow in size and number.

To appease the families, Netanyahu may be prepared to sanction renewed temporary ceasefire offers to Hamas in an effort to win more hostage releases – but not if doing so puts his governing coalition at risk.

Israel also has to bear in mind the interim ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month over accusations its military campaign breaches the Genocide Convention. The court has ordered Israel to produce a report by late February on measures it has taken to prevent genocide.

Though Netanyahu has rejected the ICJ’s ruling, he needs to take account of the views of his Western supporters who place high value on the role of the court.

The entrenched positions of the Netanyahu government and the Hamas leadership mean Blinken’s work is nowhere close to being done. That means more trips to the region, more shuttle diplomacy and, likely, more sleepless nights.

Ian Parmeter is Research Scholar, Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies, Australian National University. This commentary first appeared in The Conversation.

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