Middle East: who benefits from the extended ceasefire?

The ceasefire between Israel and the terrorist organisation Hamas has been extended until Thursday. According to Egyptian sources, ten of the hostages held in the Gaza Strip are now being exchanged for thirty Palestinian prisoners every day and aid supplies are being delivered to Gaza. In total, 81 of the presumed 240 hostages have been released so far. Commentators take different views of the deal.

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Le Figaro (FR) /

Hamas leaving Israel with no good options

Le Figaro writes:

“This perverse game is helping to divide Israeli society, which finds itself in an impossible dilemma, torn between sympathising with the victims and refusing to let Hamas boss it around. ... The Islamist movement is using the ceasefire and the handover of prisoners to consolidate the support of Palestinian and Arab public opinion and to get the West to put pressure on Israel to prolong the ceasefire. Even more difficult decisions await Israel once Hamas raises the price for returning captured civilians and soldiers. If it gives up its bargaining position and takes up arms again, it risks finding itself very much on its own.”

Polityka (PL) /

Beneficial for both sides

Israel also benefits from the ceasefire, Polityka comments:

“Israel is under pressure. Not only the families but also Israeli citizens are demanding the release of all hostages - around 100,000 took to the streets for this in Tel Aviv on Saturday, just as many as for the recent high-profile demonstrations against the judicial reforms. Arab countries and Nato have also pushed for an extension of the ceasefire. ... Extending the ceasefire is advantageous for both sides: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can boast that he has succeeded in bringing his compatriots home while Hamas gets to cast itself as 'humanitarian' by freeing women and children and showing the Palestinians that only it, not the Palestinian Authority, can force Israel to make concessions.”

ABC (ES) /

Palestinians must give up maximum demands

ABC points out that pragmatism works:

“The extension of the ceasefire is the best proof that politics can benefit all sides when it distances itself from maximum demands. ... For Israel, the extension means exposing itself to growing international pressure to prolong the ceasefire without having achieved its goal of eradicating Hamas from the Gaza Strip. ... This brings us to an important lesson for the Palestinians: namely that they too must abandon their maximum demands. On at least five occasions the Palestinian side has turned its back on the possibility of establishing its own state with broad international support. ... Concentrating on consolidating security and civil liberties are realistic goals which the Palestinians should stop trying to avoid.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Every day without death is a success

The Irish Independent welcomes the extension of the ceasefire:

“Any day without death, which allows for relief and care, has to be preferable to one of carnage, on any side. It is time to draw a line under the intolerably high civilian tolls which are unsurprising, given the bombardment of a high-density population in such a confined area. ... Amid doubtless challenges, peace and stability will only be found in the political, not the military, realm. However, a long-term truce would be infinitely more rewarding than the resumption of a catastrophic war.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Helplessness in the Arab world

The Neue Zürcher Zeitung laments the absence of peace plans from Arab countries:

“Israel has not yet presented any plan for the future of the coastal area beyond the goal of destroying Hamas. There are no ideas from the Palestinian side either. ... In this situation, there is an opportunity for the Arab states to launch a peace initiative. They could use the vacuum to put forward their own ideas for reshaping the Middle East. ... However, there is little sign of an Arab peace plan. Seven weeks after the war began the prevailing mood in Cairo, Amman, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi is one of helplessness.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Sometimes there's only reprieves, no cure

La Stampa takes a sober look at the past and the future:

“Can what has not been achieved in the past 74 years, which have seen a succession of ceasefires and wars, be achieved after October 7? Or are we dealing with a conflict that has no solution, as with a person suffering from a chronic illness for which there is no cure, only palliative measures and temporary relief? ... After 74 years, the balance is bleak. Some Arab states have accepted Israel, but for those who should be living in the same country the bottom line is terrorism and counter-terrorism.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Find the right negotiating partners

Only the prospect of a two-state solution can bring peace, Kristeligt Dagblad is convinced:

“The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which despite its many faults has largely stayed out of the war, is an obvious candidate to take over power in Gaza. But it will require a new leadership and extensive institutional reforms. And on the Israeli side it is very hard to see current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the man who can lead a peace process. Nevertheless, negotiations on a two-state solution should begin as soon as possible. Without a political horizon - a carrot, if you will - only bitterness will grow from the dusty soil of Gaza.”

Delfi (LV) /

Peace in the Middle East also good for Ukraine

Former Latvian defence minister Imants Lieģis comments on Delfi:

“The so-called two-state solution is the only path to peace. Alongside the destruction of Hamas, this must be Israel's strategic goal. ... The war in the Middle East entails the risk that Israel will not be able to cope with several crises at the same time. The United States is experiencing growing opposition worldwide from countries that want to create a new world order based on autocratic power methods. ... A swift resolution of the conflict in the Middle East would therefore allow our most important strategic partner to focus on a victory in Ukraine.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Mass destruction must come to an end

For the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, there is no alternative to a change of strategy in Gaza:

“The tactic of massive destruction has reached its expiry date. ... The greater the destruction in the Gaza Strip, the more civilian victims the war claims, the greater the danger that an even more radical generation of terrorists will rise from the ashes of Hamas. An uncompromising military approach may temporarily curb the terrorist threat, but in the long term it offers neither more security for Israel nor a perspective for the Gaza Strip.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Israel facing a terrible choice

The dynamic that has been set in motion is putting Israel under major pressure, says the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Unlike Israel, Hamas has every interest in the ceasefire lasting as long as possible. ... Because the longer it lasts, the more the war loses its deadly momentum. Many Israelis want to see all the hostages brought home alive. ... The pressure is growing to end the dying: in favour of whatever 'negotiated solution' can be arrived at. Those who do not believe in the miracle of comprehensive talks and an imminent two-state solution are faced with a terrible choice: tolerate the war until Hamas is destroyed, or let Hamas survive and wait for its next attack. Those who have to make this decision are not to be envied.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Hamas still has to be neutralised

The ceasefire must not last too long, warns The Daily Telegraph:

“It is vital to remember that a lasting peace in the Middle East needs to not only recover 240 hostages but also to neutralise Hamas. ... The only way Hamas can survive, therefore, is if Israel is forced to stop its operation due to international pressure. This is not implausible. The longer the pause lasts, the harder it may be for Israel to receive backing to continue destroying the terrorist enclaves. The deal that has been struck will allow this peace to last for some time if Hamas continues to release hostages; at a certain point, that may not be to Israel's advantage.”

Népszava (HU) /

People are forgetting what triggered the war

Israel is losing the information war, Népszava fears:

“The international reaction to the ceasefire and prisoner exchange has once again shown that although Israel may win this war, it has already suffered a devastating defeat in terms of communication. ... The international public's memory has turned out to be surprisingly short: with the number of Palestinian casualties rising day by day, the atrocities of 7 October are being forgotten, as is the fact that Hamas alone bears responsibility for the outbreak of war.”