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Zugzwang (from German ‘compulsion to move’) is a situation found in chess and other turn-based games wherein one player is put at a disadvantage because of their obligation to make a move; a player is said to be “in zugzwang” when any legal move will worsen their position.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Israel will not agree to a permanent cease-fire in Gaza as long as Hamas retains military and governing power. This comes after President Biden called for a truce between Israel and Hamas. While Netanyahu did not explicitly endorse or reject Biden’s proposed cease-fire plan, Israeli officials confirmed that it matched an Israeli proposal. However, Netanyahu’s statement may be more about managing his domestic audience and far-right cabinet members than pushing back against the White House. Hamas terrorists welcomed Biden’s speech and even expressed readiness for any agreement that meets their requirements. But Hamas doesn’t need a deal. He hopes that increasing international pressure will force Israel to cease hostilities without conditions and negotiations.

The terrorist organization Hamas demands an end to the war. Israel agrees, but only after the destruction of this terrorist group. Hamas, in turn, declared the destruction of Israel one of its top priorities.

The plan outlined by Biden does not specify who would rule Gaza after the war, which could leave Hamas in de facto charge of the territory. Israeli leaders have vowed to topple Hamas’s rule and maintain “security control” in Gaza, making a full withdrawal challenging. Netanyahu has promised “absolute victory” over Hamas, but the group has fought back against Israeli troops and frustrated attempts to capture or assassinate its leaders.

Biden’s address was seen as an appeal to the Israeli public, which largely supports the war effort. However, Netanyahu faces competing pressures at home, and some far-right coalition partners have threatened to quit his government if he agrees to a truce. Additionally, rival Benny Gantz has demanded a plan for postwar Gaza and the release of hostages.

Families of hostages held in Gaza have rallied for a cease-fire deal, fearing for their loved ones’ lives. One family member stated that failing to reach an agreement could lead to an endless war. However, if Netanyahu agrees to the deal, he may struggle to maintain his governing coalition as some see it as a victory for Hamas.

Gil Dickmann, whose cousin Carmel Gat was taken from Kibbutz Be’eri during the Hamas-orchestrated mass killing that occurred there on October:

“If this deal doesn’t go through, because of either Hamas or Israel, we are heading toward a forever war, where we sink deeper and deeper into the mud, dragging down Israelis, Palestinians and certainly the hostages,” 

The New York Times

Admittedly, some segments of the Israeli population may find it challenging to accept the proposed agreement.

Israel and Hamas observed a weeklong truce in November during which hostages and prisoners were released. Since then, both sides have held firm positions, with Hamas conditioning further releases on ending the war and Israel vowing no truce until Hamas is destroyed and hostages are brought home.

Biden’s proposed plan includes a six-week halt in hostilities, the release of hostages, Israeli withdrawal from major population centers in Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and humanitarian aid. The second phase involves the end of the war, release of remaining hostages, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and reconstruction. The third phase includes further prisoner exchanges and the reconstruction of Gaza.

A source familiar with the details of the ongoing negotiations explained: “What Biden said is almost true. What he got wrong or misinterpreted is about the second phase.”

Based on the information provided, Biden determined that hostilities would cease while talks were underway. However, Israel does not see itself as bound by this understanding for the duration of the negotiations. Furthermore, the source highlighted doubts regarding whether there was complete agreement within the Israeli Military Cabinet on the suggested phrasing.

However, there are still details to negotiate, and Israel and Hamas will continue to negotiate during the first phase. Some analysts argue that accepting the plan means giving into Hamas’s demands and highlight the need for a plan to defeat Hamas politically. Biden is eager for the war to end, but Netanyahu’s domestic political concerns may impact the outcome.

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Greg Fowlie
Greg Fowlie
1 month ago

The only way is either keeping an Israeli presence or banish all Gazans out of the Gaza strip otherwise, the Gazans will be constant trouble for the Israelis!

We ask you to continue to spread the truth with us. The world needs to know what is happening in the Middle East.

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