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CIA: Netanyahu must resist US pressure for post-war plan for Gaza

An assessment by the US Central Intelligence Agency, the CIA, which was circulated among officials this week, concluded that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu probably thinks he can continue without defining a post-war plan – even if the Biden administration has launched public and open pressure to pressure him to end the conflict in Gaza.

Netanyahu “probably believes he can maintain the support of his security chiefs and avoid defections” from the right wing of his coalition, discussing the future of Gaza in “vague terms”, the June 3 report reads that the CNN had access.

The assessment — which has not been previously released — represents one of the most up-to-date intelligence assessments of Netanyahu’s mindset that has circulated among senior U.S. officials, according to a source familiar with internal reports.

This comes amid a clear shift in how the Biden administration views Israel: less as a trusted partner and more as an unpredictable foreign government to be analyzed and understood.

The CIA has not publicly commented on the case.

The assessment highlights how the Israeli leader defies pressure from members of his own government and the Biden administration to define what the future of Gaza will look like and warns that what Netanyahu has said publicly is probably true: that he will only become seriously involved in the issue after accomplish “what he sees as important security achievements, which could take months.”

According to the assessment, these guarantees include the completion of “major military operations” – something analysts consider deliberately vague – as well as the elimination of Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif.

Deif is the commander of the Qassam Brigades and, as senior commander of Hamas’ military wing, is believed to have been deeply involved in planning the October 7, 2023 attacks on Israel.

Israel has attempted to target Deif several times in the past, and although he was injured, he is believed to still be alive.

The report is consistent with what the CNN and others have reported in the days since President Joe Biden announced a proposed three-pronged peace agreement on Friday.

It comes as senior Biden administration officials, including CIA Director Bill Burns, meet with key mediators between Israel and Hamas at a particularly tense moment in the negotiations.

Burns was the lead U.S. negotiator on a potential deal.

The US has publicly characterized the deal as an Israeli proposal and said it is waiting for Hamas to approve the terms. But Israel has been lukewarm at best on the proposal. Privately, officials have long been aware of the difficulty of getting both sides to reach an agreement.

The relationship between Biden and Netanyahu – a world leader he once claimed to “love” – has been increasingly tense as the civilian death toll in Gaza rises as a result of Israel’s military campaign. Biden and other US officials have increasingly criticized Netanyahu in public.

Although the administration was initially deeply reluctant to discuss Israeli policy in public, in recent weeks and months officials have moved closer to frank assessments of Netanyahu’s motivations.

“There is every reason for people to draw the conclusion” that Netanyahu is prolonging the war for his own political gain, Biden said in an interview with TIME magazine this week.

At an early and difficult moment in March, the US intelligence community said publicly that it assessed Netanyahu’s “viability as a leader” to be “in danger”, pointing to public distrust in the prime minister’s ability to govern and predicting “major protests demanding his resignation and new elections.”

Netanyahu faces an internal reckoning over the military and intelligence failures that led to Hamas’ devastating attack on southern Israel on October 7. He also faces deep divisions within his own government. Even in the midst of strong pressure from Biden to end the war, he faces equally strong pressure from far-right politicians in his fragile government coalition, who demand the continuation of the conflict.

The CIA assessment highlights that, in Israel, there is no consensus on the post-war plan for Gaza, indicating the diverse opinions of each minister on governance, security and post-war reconstruction.

Netanyahu, for example, is pictured alongside a blurb stating that he “prefers a coalition of moderate Arab states to manage the territory with eventual participation” from other leaders.

Other Israeli leaders are described by the report as having various views on future governance that are diametrically opposed to those attributed to Netanyahu.

Overall, the assessment illustrates how Israel’s coalition government remains deeply divided over several critical postwar issues — supporting the CIA’s broader conclusion that a lack of unity among Netanyahu’s political rivals could allow him to continually challenge any pressure to define a plan for Gaza once the conflict ends.

“My main disagreement with Netanyahu is: what will happen after Gaza is gone?” Biden told TIME. “Where is this heading? Are Israeli forces returning home?”

Source: CNN Brasil

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