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Mar 20, 2024, 7:22am EDT
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Semafor Signals

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US to focus on Rafah in upcoming Israel talks

Insights from The Wall Street Journal, The Times of Israel, Haaretz

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (not pictured) in Jerusalem, March 17, 2024. Leo Correa/Pool via REUTERS
Leo Correa/Pool via REUTERS
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The News

An Israeli delegation is set to hold talks in Washington during which U.S. officials are expected to try and avert a planned attack on the Gazan town of Rafah as Israel-Hamas truce negotiations remain deadlocked.

The U.N.’s hunger monitoring system has said the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “catastrophic” and that the enclave is on the brink of a famine, as aid has repeatedly been blocked from entering the territory.

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Neither side will budge on demands

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Source:  
The Wall Street Journal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants to “eliminate” Hamas from Gaza, a goal that has been Israel’s focus since the militant group’s Oct. 7 attack. Meanwhile, Hamas is trying to retain some of its influence in the enclave after the war ends, The Wall Street Journal reported. Netanyahu has also pushed for an Israeli invasion of Rafah, a crowded city near the Egyptian border where hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering. Much of the delay hinges on Israel’s unwillingness to give Hamas any wins, one analyst that spoke to the Journal said. “Israel knows going into those negotiations that it lost. Any agreement that is produced is a victory for Hamas, and the goal is to minimize that victory as much as possible,” former Israeli hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin said.

US trying to prevent military operation in Rafah

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Source:  
The Times of Israel

The U.S. is set to present Israel with alternative options for targeting Hamas that does not involve a risky incursion into Rafah, which would come with a high humanitarian cost. American officials that spoke to The Times of Israel said that Washington will propose securing the Egypt-Gaza border as an alternative to the ground campaign. Under the proposal, Israel would focus on preventing weapons that could rearm Hamas militants from being smuggled over the border. “This isn’t just us saying, ‘No you can’t do it.’ We’re saying that we’re willing to work with you on viable alternatives that still help you achieve your objectives,” one official said.

Netanyahu isn’t going anywhere, despite US frustrations

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Source:  
Haaretz

Netanyahu has held onto power even as support from Israelis dwindles and a rift with leaders in Washington, who have criticized his lack of action to stem the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, grows. “It should beggar belief a man who is not only responsible for the strategy that led Israel into the worst and most tragic debacle of its history, is still in office,” wrote Haaretz’s Anshel Pfeffer, but it is less surprising when that man is Netanyahu, who is “incapable of either feeling shame or taking responsibility.” Pfeffer added: Netanyahu “sees himself as the ultimate victim of October 7, the strong and righteous leader let down by idiots and traitors. He has no intention of ever resigning on his own accord.”

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