Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz leaves the White House after meeting with US Vice President Kamala Harris on March 4, 2024. The US is trying to strengthen opposition to Netanyahu, who is impassive in the face of of Joe Biden’s ceasefire calls.

Amid ongoing devastation in the Gaza Strip, truce negotiations face significant obstacles, highlighted by Emir Mourad, secretary general of the Palestinian Latin American and Caribbean Confederation (Coplac), which represents Palestinian communities on the continent. He shared to Red Portal his impressions of the stalled negotiations in Egypt. Hamas representatives arrived in Cairo to discuss a possible truce, however, the absence of the Israeli delegation raises questions about the feasibility of these talks.

Israeli media reports that Israel withheld its delegation due to Hamas’ refusal to provide clear answers, especially regarding the list of hostages in Gaza. Israel preferred to put its foot down, rather than go to Egypt and demand the list of live hostages, to find out if an agreement was worth it. Despite this, the Palestinian group appears determined to continue negotiations, seeking support from Egypt and Qatar.

After 150 days of brutal conflict, the toll is terrible: more than 30,000 Palestinians dead, including more than 10,000 children. Mourad, in a candid interview, expressed the urgency of a permanent ceasefire, contrasting with discussions surrounding a 30 to 40 day pause.

The critical point, emphasizes Mourad, is the absence of the Israeli delegation in recent rounds of negotiations. While the Palestinian and Israeli parties present their demands, the Israeli absence is seen as the main obstacle to significant progress.

“It’s like saying: we don’t want to make an agreement. We want to continue executing this genocide in the Gaza strip,” she summarized.

The core of the concern lies in the absence of the Israeli delegation in the latest rounds of negotiations. “When a party refuses to participate in negotiations, it reveals its lack of commitment to peace”, highlights Mourad. This refusal, he said, suggests that Israel is not interested in seeking a peaceful solution.

“We tried, through negotiations, to reach a ceasefire”, says Mourad. “Palestinians aspire to lasting peace, while Israel appears bent on prolonging the genocide.”

Mourad highlights Israel’s objectives in the conflict: “First, continue the genocide; second, expel the Palestinian population from Gaza; and third, maintain the occupation of the territory.” However, he remains optimistic that the ongoing negotiations could lead to a peaceful solution, provided all parties are willing to engage constructively.

Intentional complicity

Now, hopes rest on the role of the United States, seen as an influential mediator. However, Mourad points to the US as a major accomplice in the genocide. “The US has a crucial role to play”, declares Mourad. “They have the financial and military means to convince Israel to commit to a ceasefire.”

Furthermore, Mourad reveals ongoing efforts to pressure the Israeli government, including attempts at internal division. “We are witnessing intense pressure on Netanyahu and his administration,” he reveals. “It is crucial to increase this pressure to reach a fair resolution.”

Israeli war cabinet member and opposition leader Benny Gantz met with Biden administration officials in Washington, D.C., on Monday to discuss the ongoing war. In an apparent disregard, Gantz did not inform Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his trip, which led the government official to clarify to his Western allies that “the state of Israel has only one prime minister”.

As Netanyahu faces renewed criticism at home and is blamed for the October 7 attacks, Gantz’s popularity has grown – so much so that many see him as the likely replacement for Netanyahu, who remains uninvited to visit Washington. He only participates in the government, because Bibi wants to create an impression of national unity in the midst of the conflict.

The truce proposals under discussion include a six-week ceasefire and the release of captives considered vulnerable, such as the sick, injured, elderly and women. However, continued demands from both sides highlight the challenges to achieving lasting peace. “It is not exclusive to anyone to have requests and demands. The problem is the Israeli absence, regardless of any conditions”, highlights Mourad.

While Israel continues to insist on its military approach, Hamas demands a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces and an expansion of humanitarian aid for the population of Gaza.

Mourad highlights the importance of the holy month of Ramadan, which begins soon. “We are awaiting the next steps before Ramadan, a period of spiritual significance for Muslims,” he explains. “This moment could bring a pause in the conflict, but this depends on the will of all parties involved.”


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