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Sailing away? Israeli leaders have discussed an Arafat-style exit for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar

By 37ci3 Feb 7, 2024


Israel will be ready to give permission Yahya Sinvar, the military leader of Hamas in return he went into exile release of all liens and the end of the Hamas government in Gaza, half a dozen Israeli officials and senior advisers told NBC News.

The idea of ​​exile to pave the way for a new, radicalized Gaza governing body has been “on the table” since November, according to another senior adviser to the Israeli government. Officials and advisers discussed the idea with NBC News in early January.

The Israeli government initially promised to kill Hamas leaders Sinwar and Mohammed Daif. October 7 terrorist attack In Israel, 1,200 people died and another 240 were kidnapped. The idea of ​​sending them and four other senior leaders into exile followed, just as Yasser Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization fled Beirut by boat 42 years ago. the beginning of the war As a possible alternative means of removing the Hamas leadership from Gaza.

“If we don’t mind [Sinwar] Arafat will leave the same way he left Lebanon,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief adviser. “We will allow this to happen until all hostages are released.”

Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat arrives in Athens after leaving Beirut on September 1, 1982.
Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, arrives in Athens, the capital of Greece, after leaving Beirut on September 1, 1982.AFP via Getty Images

The exile was just one of a series of proposals the Israelis sent to the United States, including replacing Hamas with elected civilian leaders and reforming Gaza’s education system, two sources with knowledge of the government discussions said.

In 1982, as the Israel Defense Forces closed in on Beirut, then the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, the United States and other international mediators organized a speech for the group’s members and its leader. Hundreds of PLO fighters left Lebanon by ship, followed by Arafat, who lived in exile in Tunisia for ten years.

Last week, Qatar’s prime minister and spy chiefs from the US, Israel and Egypt met in Paris to discuss a deal they hope will lead to the release of Israeli hostages and an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

After the meeting, the Egyptians conveyed the framework of the agreement to the military leaders of Hamas in Gaza, while the Qataris spoke with the political leaders of the group in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar arrives at a rally on the occasion of Al-Quds Day in Gaza City on April 14, 2023.
The head of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, came to the rally held on the occasion of Jerusalem Day in Gaza on April 14.Mohamed Talatene / dpa via Getty Images file

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said on Tuesday that Hamas had “responded positively” to the proposed terms of the deal. Hamas made a counter offer with specific conditions, This was reported by NBC News on Tuesdayhowever, this response makes no mention of exile for Sinwar or the end of the Hamas government.

A source with knowledge of the Paris meeting and its outcome said the Israelis offered the Americans the withdrawal of six Hamas leaders, including Sinwar and Daif, from Gaza, but the offer was never formally presented to Hamas because Hamas was already in power. brings forth the idea of ​​exile.

Hamas’s counteroffer included a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, which Netanyahu rejected on Wednesday.

Why negotiations continue after the hostage treaty and the war.

“The Magic Solution”

Israeli War Cabinet advisers working on post-Hamas Gaza scenarios admit it is unlikely that Sinwar will ever agree to set sail.

Yasser Arafat leaves Beirut on August 30, 1982.
Yasser Arafat leaves Beirut on August 30, 1982.Benami Neumann / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images file

A former senior Israeli security official told NBC News.[Exile] This is the magic solution that everyone wants, but Hamas cannot agree to it.”

In addition, Palestinian leaders and Arab governments are wary of any Israeli proposals on how Gaza should be governed in the future, according to foreign diplomats and former US officials.

Israeli officials believe that Sinwar and Daif are now hiding in tunnels under Khan Yunis and Rafah in southern Gaza.

Officials say the Israeli military is moving south, closing in on Sinwar and Deif to destroy Hamas military capabilities and free the remaining hostages.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Monday that the Israeli military had found “materials” left behind in Sinwar’s shelters.

“Sinvar is moving from shelter to shelter,” Gallant said at a news conference. “In recent days, IDF troops have found significant materials at his recent locations, and thanks to them, we are deepening our control over Hamas’ plans.”

Jacob Nagel, Netanyahu’s former national security adviser, said he believed Sinwar still thought he would emerge from the tunnels victorious. “Sinwar doesn’t care what happens to the people of Gaza,” said Nagel, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

According to two of Netanyahu’s top advisers, as well as former Israeli officials who have been involved in talks with the Palestinians in the past, Israel is exploring options for who might be suitable to lead Gaza and the West Bank in the future.

The current thinking is that foreign-educated business leaders may be best suited to take the reins of civil affairs in Gaza.

“We need a new leadership with young leadership, who think differently, who is willing to talk about peace, to change the state of mind and to educate people in both the West Bank and Gaza,” said a senior adviser to Netanyahu.

Nagel said: “It can be deradicalised. It will take time, but it can be done.”

For now, Hamas officials have indicated that the hostages will not be released until the end of the war. Netanyahu said that the war will not end until Hamas is destroyed.

“There is no solution other than total victory,” Netanyahu said on Wednesday.

According to Gazan health authorities and the Israeli government, more than 26,000 Gazans and more than 500 Israeli soldiers have died so far in the four-month war.



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