The Israeli government, in the context of this war, has articulated two overarching objectives. This military campaign was triggered by the brazen attack launched by Hamas on October 7, resulting in the loss of over 1200 lives and the abduction of approximately 250 individuals. These objectives encompass the obliteration of the extremist faction ensconced in Gaza and the repatriation of the hostages. However, doubts have emerged, particularly among certain segments of the Israeli populace, particularly the families of the hostages, with regard to the compatibility of these dual goals.
A temporary humanitarian pause, brokered through negotiations, saw the release of more than 100 hostages by Hamas in late November, coinciding with the release of incarcerated Palestinians by Israel. Subsequent to the resumption of hostilities, Hamas has categorically declared that it will not entertain further negotiations as long as the Gaza conflict persists—an essential prerequisite, according to Netanyahu, for the return of the hostages.
Eisenkot’s pre-recorded interview followed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s televised address, wherein he reiterated the unyielding stance that an unequivocal victory over Hamas constitutes the sole viable course of action. Netanyahu also emphatically articulated his opposition to a United States proposal advocating for Palestinian statehood in any post-war scenario. He contended that such a proposition would imperil Israeli security.
“In any prospective accord, it is imperative that Israel retains security control over the entire expanse, spanning from the sea to the Jordan River,” affirmed Netanyahu on Thursday. “This is a non-negotiable prerequisite, and it runs counter to the principles of Palestinian sovereignty.”
U.S. President Joe Biden has steadfastly championed a two-state solution as the avenue to resolve the protracted conflict—a notion that, in recent years, has been viewed with skepticism by many Israelis and Palestinians alike, particularly those residing under Israeli occupation. In response to Netanyahu’s position, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby unequivocally stated, “We have a divergent perspective. We firmly believe in the Palestinians’ entitlement to inhabit an autonomous state characterized by peace and security.”
A decisive majority of Israelis lend their support to the ongoing Gaza war. Nevertheless, the ferocity of Israel’s protracted ground and aerial offensive, resulting in the tragic demise of more than 24,760 Palestinians and the injury of over 62,100, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry, has elicited substantial international censure. Furthermore, it has precipitated skirmishes across the broader region, with Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq all experiencing outbreaks of hostilities.
During his appearance on the program, Eisenkot expounded on the deliberations within the war cabinet, which encompasses opposition figures, including himself. These deliberations effectively deterred both Netanyahu and the military leadership from embarking on an offensive against the Hezbollah militant organization in Lebanon during October—an action that, according to Eisenkot, would have aligned with Hamas’s aspirations of widening the conflict.
“We successfully averted a grievous misjudgment,” he averred, recounting a contentious exchange within the cabinet. Eisenkot, who served as the Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces from 2015 to 2019, has acknowledged his share of responsibility for the cross-border incursion by Hamas—an event that stands as the bloodiest day in Israel’s storied history.
Gershon Baskin, an Israeli peace advocate who played a pivotal role as a back-channel negotiator with Hamas in a 2011 agreement facilitating the release of an Israeli soldier, offered his perspective to The Washington Post. He affirmed that Eisenkot’s pronouncements constitute the most trenchant critique of the ongoing war effort emanating from the core of Israel’s establishment.
“He has set an entirely new moral benchmark within the realm of Israeli politics,” Baskin asserted. “The duration of his tenure within the coalition will be contingent upon the extent of his commitment to prioritizing the war effort.