For Hostage Negotiations to Succeed, Washington Should Pressure Qatar

Yesterday evening, the ongoing talks in Cairo to arrange a Palestinian-prisoners-for-Israeli-hostages deal appear to have broken down decisively. Yigal Carmon argues that to free Israelis from Hamas captivity, the U.S. should be using its leverage against Qatar, which is serving as an intermediary in negotiations, instead of pressuring Jerusalem to make concessions:

Qatar isn’t pressuring Hamas despite the fact that in reality, Qatar is the lifeline of Hamas—its hope, its future, its power to continue to fight and to hold the hostages. Qatar built Hamas from a small organization into a military and political power. It took pride in its training of “Hamas security officials.” . . . Without Qatar, Hamas is doomed. And why should Qatar pressure Hamas? The Biden administration is happy with it anyway.

President Biden needs a political victory for his reelection: one such victory would be to finish the war with a peace process that begins with a new hostage-release deal and allows for Biden’s plan to take off with the participation of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.

Worse still, writes Carmon, the White House believes Qatar can help facilitate a postwar grand bargain involving Saudi-Israeli normalization and a path the Palestinian statehood:

The administration believes that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt will join in a process in which Qatar is the leader. This will never happen. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are Qatar’s sworn adversaries. . . . Qatar is the ticking bomb that will blow up any peace process, because it stands for Hamas. In fact, it is part of . . . the anti-U.S. bloc comprising Hamas, Hizballah, the Houthis, Iran, Russia, and China (even on the issue of Taiwan, Qatar sides with China).

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza War 2023, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7