Can the U.S. force a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas? : Consider This from NPR On Saturday, Israeli special forces rescued four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, killing at least 270 Palestinians and injuring hundreds in the process.

The rescue of the hostages was a moment of triumph for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he didn't have long to bask in it.

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel's unity war cabinet, announced his resignation on Sunday, over Netanyahu's management of the war in Gaza. After Gantz's resignation, Netanyahu will be even more reliant on far-right members of his coalition, who have vocally opposed efforts to broker a cease-fire.

The U.S. continues to push a cease-fire proposal outlined last month, and on Monday the U.N. Security council passed a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting that deal.

NPR's Michele Kelemen and Daniel Estrin help us get a sense of what this weekend's events might mean for the war and its ending.

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Can the U.S. force a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas?

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It was a moment of overwhelming relief for Israelis.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Non-English language spoken).

KELLY: That's a beach lifeguard announcing the news that special forces had rescued four hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. It was also a moment of triumph for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but he did not have long to bask in it.


BENNY GANTZ: (Non-English language spoken).

KELLY: Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel's Unity war cabinet, announced his resignation on Sunday over Netanyahu's management of the war in Gaza.


GANTZ: (Non-English language spoken).

KELLY: He said Netanyahu was prioritizing his own political survival over the fate of the hostages in captivity. Gantz was a moderating voice in the war cabinet. After his resignation, Netanyahu will be even more reliant on far-right members of his coalition who have vocally opposed efforts to broker a cease-fire. Amid all this, the U.S. continues to push a cease-fire proposal outlined last month. Here's national security adviser Jake Sullivan on CNN on Sunday.


JAKE SULLIVAN: The best way to get all of the hostages home and to protect Palestinian civilians is to end this war. And the best way to end this war is for Hamas to say yes to the deal President Biden announced and that Israel has accepted.

KELLY: The U.N. Security Council passed a U.S.-drafted resolution supporting that deal on Monday, but it's not at all clear Israel will accept it. On Sunday, Netanyahu called for total victory, which appears incompatible with the cease-fire proposal. Without a cease-fire, Palestinians will continue to suffer. Saturday's hostage rescue took place in a densely populated refugee camp in Gaza.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

KELLY: NPR's producer in Gaza, Anas Baba, was in the area and ran for cover at a United Nations school.

ANAS BABA, BYLINE: Artillery everywhere, airstrikes everywhere. We don't know exactly what's happening here. People are only trying to get inside of the school in order to take shelter.

KELLY: Gaza's health ministry said Israel killed more than 270 Palestinians during the operation, including at least 64 children. Hundreds more people were reported injured. CONSIDER THIS - after a weekend that brought many Israelis relief and many Palestinians more anguish, there is still no clear path to end this war.


KELLY: From NPR, I'm Mary Louise Kelly.


KELLY: It's CONSIDER THIS FROM NPR. The U.N. Security Council vote in support of the cease-fire proposal is noteworthy but symbolic. Any durable agreement will ultimately come down to Israel and Hamas. And so U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Middle East Monday trying to get regional leaders on board.


ANTONY BLINKEN: If you want a cease-fire, press Hamas to say yes. If you want to alleviate the terrible suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, press Hamas to say yes. If you want to get all the hostages home, press Hamas to say yes.

KELLY: To get a sense of what this weekend's events might mean for the war and its ending, I spoke with two NPR reporters, Michele Kelemen, who covers the State Department, and Daniel Estrin, based in Israel. Welcome.



KELLY: Michele, you start. This cease-fire plan that's on the table, that America's top diplomat is trying to rally the world behind, what's in it? What are the details?

KELEMEN: Yeah, so it's what President Biden laid out at the end of May. It's this three-phased approach to ending the war. It starts with a six-week cease-fire and the release of some of the hostages. Israel would have to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. That number still has to be negotiated. And once all that starts, Israel and Hamas are supposed to negotiate a permanent cease-fire, and Israel would withdraw from Gaza. Hamas wants a guarantee of all of that now, but this is a phased approach with lots of potential pitfalls and no guarantees.

And so what Blinken is trying to do is to get more countries to press Hamas to agree to it, as you heard. The U.S. also brought the plan to the U.N. Security Council this afternoon and got an almost unanimous endorsement. Russia abstained, but everyone else voted for the resolution, which the U.S. says sends a clear message to Hamas to accept the deal and for both Hamas and Israel to start implementing it.

KELLY: Daniel, just to remind people of the backdrop, but one of Israel's main goals all along has been the release of its hostages. Then it launched a raid this weekend that freed four of those hostages who were being held in Gaza. How does that rescue - how does that play into these cease-fire talks?

ESTRIN: Well, I think for Israelis, that hostage rescue this weekend only reinforced that the military cannot free all of the hostages in that kind of special ops rescue. And the only way to get all the hostages out alive, as even the military spokesman himself has said, is through a deal with Hamas. So there is, you know, increasing public pressure in Israel to strike that deal. From Israel's security establishment perspective, they feel it is the right time for the deal, mostly because of the battlefield accomplishments that they see in Gaza, the Israeli military taking over the Gaza border with Egypt, going after Hamas and Rafah. And they also believe that a cease-fire deal could actually quiet the northern border with Lebanon, where there's been an uptick in Hezbollah fire.

The question, really, Mary Louise, is if there is political will in Israel. You know, Blinken has said that Hamas is the one that needs to be pushed on this cease-fire deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu truly does not seem willing to take the political risk necessary to really embrace this cease-fire deal because his far-right political partners oppose it. They oppose an end to the war without Hamas destroyed.

From the Hamas perspective, I should add that, you know, this raid - this hostage raid killed more than 200 Palestinians, as you mentioned. We'll have to see how much of a setback that could be for the cease-fire efforts, but their position remains. They won't agree to a cease-fire deal until Israel - until there's a guarantee that Israel really means it's going to be the end of the war.

KELLY: Michele, pick up on the point that we just heard Daniel nodding at. Secretary Blinken says Hamas is the problem. Israel has accepted the deal, it's Hamas that's holding out. But Israel has not accepted crucial elements of this plan, at least as it was set out by President Biden, right? How is he squaring that?

KELEMEN: Yeah. I mean, U.S. officials have repeatedly said that Israel has agreed to the plan, despite what Netanyahu says for his own political reasons. And in fact, Mary Louise, the U.N. Security Council, which the U.S. drafted, says that Israel has endorsed it. So, in a way, the U.S. is trying to box Israel in. If the U.N. Security Council and much of the world now backs this plan and pressures Hamas to sign up for it, it will be harder for Netanyahu not to at least start this process. I mean, it's a gamble, of course, and there's a lot of political issues at play, as Daniel has suggested.

KELLY: Is it also a case of possibly different political timelines playing out here? One from the Biden administration, one from Benjamin Netanyahu, Daniel?

ESTRIN: Yeah. I mean, I think there are two different political timelines here, at least two different ones. I mean, Biden wants a cease-fire deal really soon because the war is hurting his reelection campaign. He wants to advance this historic treaty between Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of this grand bargain to end the war and to do all that before the elections. Netanyahu is on almost an opposite timeline. Many Israeli analysts believe that Netanyahu actually would probably rather wait for a potential Trump victory because he may think that Trump can offer him a better deal for Saudi-Israeli relations. Trump would not insist that Israel make concessions to the Palestinians as part of that deal. And then, you know, Netanyahu has this third timeline, which is his own political reality in Israel, the potential of new elections. His main political rival, Benny Gantz, resigned from the war cabinet yesterday. He's calling for elections in the fall. There's a good chance Netanyahu could lose those elections.

KELLY: Ah. Well, let's look ahead. Michele Kelemen, I gave you the first word. I'll give you the last word, too, because we love you. We were talking about the vote at the U.N. today. Where does the Biden administration take this next?

KELEMEN: Well, I mean, I think that vote should give a boost to Secretary Blinken, who remains in the region, and he's heading to Jordan tomorrow for a big conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza. So that should give him a big boost that the U.S. is doing something that has some support from the region. He's also planning to visit Qatar, which is a key country in these cease-fire talks. You know, Hamas has an office in Doha, Qatar, and that's a place where they receive the formal responses from Hamas political figures. Blinken also visited Egypt, which is the other key player in these negotiations. So he's really just trying to get these talks going and to get this first phase started.

KELLY: That is NPR diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen and international correspondent Daniel Estrin. Thanks to you both.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

ESTRIN: You're welcome.


KELLY: This episode was produced by Connor Donevan and Noah Caldwell. It was edited by Courtney Dorning and James Hider. Our executive producer is Sami Yenigun. And one more thing before we go. You can now enjoy the CONSIDER THIS newsletter. Just like the podcast, we help you break down a major story of the day. You'll also get to know our producers and our hosts, and we'll share some moments of joy from the ALL THINGS CONSIDERED team. You can sign up at


KELLY: It's CONSIDER THIS FROM NPR. I'm Mary Louise Kelly.

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